The Idea Black Hole Boss

So you went to your boss with a great idea, and he (she) said he liked it. Two months go by, however, and nothing ever came of it – disappearing in much the same way as the last half-dozen ideas you came up with did. You begin to wonder why you even try…
It can be frustrating when your attempts to proactively contribute to your company’s success are seemingly sucked into a giant black hole of indifference. You can’t help but feel that either your boss just doesn’t get it, or that he simply doesn’t respect you. The danger, of course, is that you start to lose motivation – which has a negative impact on both your company and your career. What do you do?
To begin with, it’s important to recognize that your boss’s apparent disinterest in moving your ideas forward is likely not a reflection of how he feels about you or your idea. The two most common causes for this situation are:
1. With all of the other initiatives he has going (many of which you might not be aware of), he physically does not have the time to give it it’s due attention.
2. He liked the idea, but perceived that the benefits it offered didn’t warrant making it a priority.
If you truly want to see your idea move forward, therefore, the key is to ensure that both of these issues are addressed. Here is an effective two-part approach for doing that:
a. Highlight the value
When you present your idea, make sure you drive home the value that the idea brings to the company. For example, if you came to your boss and said, “Hey boss, I think we should go out and buy a left-handed dooflicker. It will really make things easier here…” there’s a good chance your boss might not follow up on it. Why? Because ‘making things easier’ isn’t a very compelling benefit for an investment. Imagine, however, that you said this instead: “Hey boss, I think we should go out and buy a left-handed dooflicker. We will be able to get this job done in half the time. Our productivity will double…” Now there is a compelling reason for an investment.
b. Be proactive
If a month goes by and nothing has happened, try seeing if you can help to create a little momentum for the idea. For example, you could say, “Hey boss, remember that idea I had about the dooflicker that could double our productivity? Would you like me to do a little research on how much they cost and what is involved in getting them installed?” If time pressure was the reason that your boss had not moved things forward, you have now effectively removed some of that barrier – and subtly reminded him of the idea’s value at the same time.
In addition to being very effective at moving your ideas forward, there is also a great side-benefit that comes from taking this approach. As you help your boss bring greater value to him and the company, you also begin to create greater value for yourself. You become that indispensable ‘go-to’ person that is in demand in every organization.

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