You’ve got a great idea you just know will improve the business. How do you get your boss excited? Okay, let’s be real, not just excited, but as excited as you are?
7 Ways to Get Your Boss Excited About Your Great Idea
Your boss has a lot going on. How do you make your great idea stand out? It starts here.
1. Rock your day job.
As executives, we would frequently hold skip level meetings to uncover new ideas for improving the customer and employee experience. Often we would run into an employee with lots of ideas who was frustrated because his boss never let him work on them. But when we would question their manager about this, we’d hear an exasperated sigh “He can’t get his regular work done.” Or, “Her performance scorecard is in the bottom 10% of the team. I need her focused there.”
If you want your boss to take your new ideas seriously, be sure you’re delivering well on the fundamentals.
2. Align your idea with strategic priorities.
One of our clients has a fantastic formalized system to encourage employees to share ideas. There is no shortage of opportunities for people to speak up and share their great ideas. In fact, there are so many ideas competing for attention, there are many good ones that just get lost in the sauce. Do you know which ideas get noticed and immediately implemented? The ones aligned with the company’s MIT (Most Important Thing) strategic priorities. If you want to get your boss excited about your great idea, be sure she thinks it will excite her boss.
3. Be able to share a clear benefit statement (and be able to pass the red-face test – that the main person who will benefit is not you.)
Your boss will hear ideas that will make your job easier, but the best ideas have a bigger impact. Any manager who’s been around the block a few times can smell an empire-building stunt or a slick move that makes your job easier (while leaving your peers to pick up the slack).
Be able to articulate your idea in terms of clear benefits statements. For example:
- This will reduce customer wait time by five minutes.
- This will increase cross-functional collaboration and enable us to more quickly identify best practices.
- This IT enhancement will eliminate 13% of compliance-related human error.
- Boss, this will make your job easier by…
4. Show the immediate win.
Sure, the 5-year impact will interest your boss, but they’re likely to get even more excited if you can show a proof-of-concept right away. Consider a pilot to showcase an immediate impact and then do the math of how that impact would scale.
5. Articulate the risks and expected challenges.
If you want your boss to take your idea seriously, spend at least as much time thinking about why your idea might not work as how it will. One of our favorite techniques is to ask trusted advisors, “Tell me honestly, why do you think this idea might not work?” Then address each of these challenges head-on, as you’re making your pitch. Explain how you’re working to prevent the issue or reduce the risk.
We love Kim Kaupe’s idea in the Muse’s How to Pitch an Idea to your Boss to prepare three lists of 3s:
Bring your supervisor three lists of three items each to pitch a new project idea. The first list should include three reasons why this project would benefit the company, the second three reasons why you’re perfect to lead the project, and the last should be the three obstacles you see getting in your way and how you would handle them. These lists display planning, forward thinking, and ambition! —Kim Kaupe, ZinePak
6. Have a solid execution strategy.
“Everyone who’s taken a shower has had a great idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference.” -Nolan Bushnell, Founder of Atari
Bosses lose enthusiasm for idea people with no action. Don’t dump your idea on them; take responsibility for how it can happen and then…
7. Share your role in making this happen.
If you’ve got a great idea, don’t just bring a plan. Be willing to put skin in the game to ensure it will happen. Assuming you’ve taken care of #1, saying “Here’s exactly what needs to happen, and here’s how I see my role and what I can do to help” is a great way to get your boss excited.
See also: The Delicate Art of Persuading Your Boss