Asking your boss to change a work process or add a new one can be hard, and you never know what the answer will be. This article will look at how you can convince your boss to let you do something, or adopt a new idea, at work.
Managers usually accept or reject ideas depending on how they might affect the overall well being of the organization, in both the short and long term. So, you need to know goals, and then work out how to:
- Present the idea
- Handle objections
Crafting a message to convince your boss
The first thing to do is prepare your pitch by researching the potential benefits and costs that implementation of the idea might bring. Then package the idea and supporting findings into something that will entice the boss to say yes. The best ways to ask are verbally or in written form. Both require you to use one or more of the following tactics:
- Present your idea in a simple, understandable manner
- Use the opportunity cost approach
- Answer major objections beforehand and negotiate
How to present an idea to your boss
There are several approaches to take. The first option, which is usually the best, involves showing how the idea is beneficial to the company. Include accurate predictions and show solutions to current problems.
Align the idea with the managers’ goals
Suppose training for the IT department will help employees solve specific issues from the comfort of their laptops during weekends when the office is closed. For instance, the training will increase customer retention and the company will save more money, which will lead to higher profits. If the main goal is to increase profitability by a certain margin, you could present the idea in a way that highlights how it will help meet that goal.
“This training will help the IT department resolve customer complaints in half the time, which will save the company thousands in man hours, which translates to this about this much improvement in profitability.”
Some ideas are harder to present that way. In such cases, it’s time to apply ethical marketing tactics.
Using the fear of missing out – the opportunity cost approach
Present your idea by showing what the company stands to lose if it doesn’t adopt it. This tactic can help convince someone because people fear losing out. Consider the example of IT training. If the delayed time it takes to serve customers leads to lower customer retention rates, and there is evidence that quicker customer service will increase retention rates, then you can package the idea differently.
“This training will help us reduce the number of customers who choose competitors, which represents a loss of one million dollars in profit every year.”
Overcoming objections beforehand
Before preparing to ask, make sure you have analyzed the idea and seen that, despite any downsides and risks, implementing it represents a solid win for the company.
Your bosses don’t know that, so take time to look at things from their perspective. Common objections often stem from three things:
- Fear of failure
If the company doesn‘t have enough money, find solutions such as training fewer members of the IT department. Then as performance improves, the rest will also get the training.
If there isn’t enough manpower because of large workloads, find ways around the problem beforehand where possible. For instance, check monthly planners to see if any member is taking leave, and find out if they can postpone for the days scheduled for training. If the boss wonders whether the training will help, find success stories to prove it works.
When you show the willingness to reduce what you‘re asking for, people tend to reciprocate by ceding some ground, too. If the boss is adamant, that training is too expensive, reduce the budget by asking to use in-house training and seminar room supplies, rather than purchasing new supplies and booking a training area. Compromise might be the only way to get what you want when the stakes are high.
How to write an email to your boss
All the above tactics target verbal conversations though you can apply them to emails. A convincing email can grab attention, raise interest, show benefits, and tell the reader to act. In this case, it tells the boss what you want them to do. Remember to:
- Keep it short and simple
- Write a subject line that shows the benefit(s)
- Start with the most important points
- Proofread thoroughly
The trick is to understand that your boss is human, so take time to prepare a convincing pitch. What you present and how you present it will influence his or her decisions.