While many bosses say they're open to ideas and suggestions, what they do when you actually share a great idea with them is another reality entirely. (Ever had a boss nod along excitedly and promise to look into your idea, only for you to realize, months later, that nothing's happened? Exactly.)
So it's your job to convince your boss that what you have in mind is worth their time — and to help them see the idea through.
Without further ado, here are 7 tips for pitching an idea to your boss.
1. Do Your Research
Once that lightbulb above your head dings on, the next step is to research the logistics behind it. What will it take to put this idea into action?
For example, if it involves creating a new product, who might the target audience be? Check to see if someone else has created the item first and, if so, how might you improve it? What is the cost of making the product compared to the potential profit? Researching and answering these questions on your own time will help you present a well-rounded idea.
2. Develop a Presentation
Once you've determined your idea is worth sharing, develop a stellar presentation. This demonstration might involve a three-minute speech outlining the need, cost, and potential success of a new product.
You might prepare a one-page overview or even a demo to help your boss better understand the logistics and how the product might function. Be sure to let your enthusiasm show while developing — and delivering — the presentation. The most persuasive arguments are passionate.
3. Choose the Right Time
Equally crucial is what time you choose to present this idea to your boss. If you catch them at a busy moment, they'll be more likely to either disregard your suggestions, forget about them, or brush you off entirely. Try to schedule your meeting halfway through the week when work is less stressful.
Additionally, your boss is in the best position to listen when they aren't feeling rushed or bogged down with tasks. Be sure to schedule a time to meet in the morning or immediately after lunch.
4. Keep It Simple
The most powerful messages are short and sweet. While you want to come prepared, try not to over-plan. Walking in spouting the specific details of how you might create a new management role will only invite an argument.
Instead, open with a general statement regarding why you think a new position may be necessary. Avoid sounding like the expert as your boss may find this threatening or, worse, pompous. Present your idea as a possible solution and not the be-all end-all.
5. Make It Relevant
Show your boss you have the company's best interests in mind by linking your idea to their goals. For example, if you're pitching a plan to improve your company's customer service, tie your pitch to a company goal. Maybe your boss wants to retain customers or get more specific feedback from clients.
Whatever their goals, linking your idea to company objectives will show you have brand interests in mind. This step can propel your career forward and develop your presence within the company, making you the perfect candidate for raises, promotions, and other career-growth opportunities.
6. Ask for Feedback
Inviting your boss to share their input on your idea is essential if you want to get their buy-in. You want them to know you value their opinion and expertise, and if you're serious about implementing your idea, you need to know how realistic it is! Your boss is a great person to give you this feedback. They'll also be able to provide context and additional information about the company's goals that you may not have.
7. Volunteer to Lead
If your boss decides to run with your idea, be prepared to offer yourself up as a leader. They'll likely be looking for someone to organize and execute the logistical plans, and volunteering to oversee changes and developments will free them up from the responsibility of heading up project themselves. This is often what makes the difference between an idea that never sees the light of a day, and one that is brought to fruition.
More often than not, ideas fail not because the idea itself was bad, but because the people behind them lack the time/resources/dedication to see them through. Don't let that happen to you!
Have a Great Idea? Pitch It to Your Boss!
At the end of the day, the key to success is confidence... if you never propose your idea, it'll never happen. So take that first step and you might just be pleasantly surprised by how well it's received!