As the saying goes, if I had a dollar for every time I hear someone on my social circles mention that their, “ideas are being ignored at work”, I’d be rich.
Just because you have an idea, doesn’t mean everyone around you should drop to their knees and worship you. And if you have a good idea, maybe they aren’t listening for a number of reasons:
- You speak too often, too soon and have worn out your welcome.
- Your reputation precedes you: you lack follow-through, or, your ideas are of low value.
- You are disconnected from the goals of the business and your trajectory is on a different path than that of the corporation or your colleagues.
- You are known to be too “political” or, as they say in my circles, “You are a kiss-ass”, rather than being ethically and “spiritually” aligned for the long-term success of the company and you colleagues.
As you can see above, the list can be almost endless. In other words, a little introspection and objective self-analysis of your behaviour and your reputation might go a long way.
Once you have identified your constraints, what’s been holding you back, there is a methodology that will help you to build respect for your suggestions among colleagues and more importantly the management team. Let’s jump to that.
When presenting ideas in a workplace, you have to ensure two overall important elements are present: your audience is listening and what you have to say is important to them. Here’s a suggested guideline that has a high degree of success:
- Judges in a courtroom use a gavel. What’s your gavel? No. You don’t have to slam the table. But you should say or do something to attract all eyes to you, without being rude or disrespectful. Communication begins with being noticed.
- Be ready and waiting, like a STOP sign. Are you ready? Have the screen fixed, or the necessary file, or sample, in hand, to point to…no fumbling to find what you need. When their eyes land on you, they expect to see or hear something. Be ready for the attention of the audience. It’s a short attention span. So, you have no time to dig for files or samples.
- Relay your MESSAGE as does a stop STOP sign. When approaching a stop sign, you can see it at a distance; it looks the same day or night; and it does not consist of 1,000 or 100 words. You know it as soon as you see it. You react as quickly as you spot it. Your message, sample, or file, must be a show stopper to grab and hold their attention.
- Introduce, almost immediately, the answer to, “Who Benefits?” Too many presentations, at this point, begin a long, windy argument for why something is needed. Your audience wants to know who among them ought to listen to you. WHO SHOULD CARE and what about their current situation makes them want to care?
- Once step 4 is completed, start working around the table or room once more. For each of the people or clusters of people mentioned in 4, present the gap, the difference between today’s reality and the end-result, the benefit, of your solution. Demonstrate, or describe, where each beneficiary can be, compared to where each is currently at.
- Ask for permission to proceed.
- Present the idea.
- Validate with each beneficiary that this idea would produce the end-state you described earlier.
- If everyone is on side, ask for a commitment from the team, room, management to move forward with your suggestion.
- If your idea is going to be moving forward ask if there is a role for you as the idea moves into resourcing and implementation phases.
As a rule of thumb, the more often you contribute useful, actionable, result-producing ideas that benefit the company, meaning, saves costs and improves profits, or benefits your colleagues, the more you will be respected and listened to.