How To Present An Idea To Your Employer

Aren't sure if the boss will like your idea? Here are tips to help you get a fair hearing from someone in charge.

After getting a great job using your skills, you develop several years of experience. All at once, you have a sensational idea to improve company productivity.

But you're not the brass. Getting someone in charge to listen to your idea seems like a remote possibility. Yet there are things you can do to get the attention of a supervisor for a quick pitch of your proposal. Here's what to do:

1. Streamline your idea. Make it smooth, sharp, and clear. Avoid clumsy wording, vague references, and faulty grammar. Trim it to a length of no more than three pages, and preferably just one. Use bolded or bullet headings to highlight key areas. Then list short phrases that describe how the plan will unfold. Ask a trusted co-worker or family member to go over it with a fine-toothed comb, then revise to strengthen the final draft.

2. Make an appointment. Work with the administrator's secretary to choose a date and time when the person will not feel rushed. Wait until an important project is concluded or the supervisor's work load slows down. A mid-week day, just after lunch (perhaps 1:30), works well for many proposals.

3. Look your best. Following the usual office dress code, wear an outfit that makes you feel confident and competent. Style your hair neatly. Don't wear much jewelry, cosmetics, or fragrance. Wear comfortable shoes, and when invited in for your pitch, sit straight but comfortably.

4. Behave professionally. Don't come on too strong. Smile a little, but not in a way that seems silly or non-serious. Thank the administrator for allowing you to stop by, and promise not to take too much time.

5. Present your idea in less than five minutes, preferably three. Start with a title or summary, then state a few key points with details or examples. Emphasize benefits to the company, such as saving time, cutting costs, or pleasing customers. Provide a "back door" to let the boss refuse, if necessary, such as "I realize you may need time to think it over" or "We haven't tried this approach before, but I believe it will work." Invite questions at the end of your overview. Leave a fact sheet or one-page summary of your proposal for later review.

6. Whatever your listener's response, offer thanks for the time and appreciation for hearing you out. If a "no" response is given on the spot, still say thanks, and ask if it might be considered a little further down the road, say in six months, unless you feel this would be too pushy. If the administrator requires time to think about your idea, offer to provide additional information if needed. You can mention checking back in a week or two if that is convenient.

7. Follow up courteously, without being pushy. If you promised to check back in two weeks, don't call before then. If you hear the administrator has been out of town on travel, allow some time for him or her to catch up with the work flow before checking on your proposal.

Whatever the final response, maintain a polite air of gratitude. You never know when the door that has just shut firmly in your face might open unexpectedly. Keep a record of your meeting and its outcome for future reference; another administrator might be looking for a similar idea later. Never give up with sharing suggestions or proposals. That is how great things come to pass, sooner or later.

© High Speed Ventures 2011