DO YOU feel frustrated in your job because you can’t get your boss to see things your way? You rant and rave and tell your colleagues or spouse that your boss is an idiot.
But think again. Maybe your ideas are not presented in the right way. Try these five tips on how to “sell” your ideas more effectively to your boss.
1. Start off on a positive note
Obviously, putting a person in a negative mood from the beginning is not going to get you anywhere. Start off with something casual, but appropriate, such as “How was your golf on Sunday?” Putting your boss at ease will make him more receptive to what you are going to say.
Check the “weather” before you walk in. Have a chat with his secretary and ask for clues about the boss’s mood. If there’s no secretary, ask the boss: “Can I take up some of your time?” and listen to how he replies to you. If the signs are not good, make an excuse and defer the meeting.
2. Present facts and figures, not just opinions
Without supporting facts and figures, opinions hold very little water and can easily be challenged. Nobody can challenge valid facts and figures, not even the boss (unless he is totally unreasonable).
Telling the boss you feel that staff morale is low, for example, without any supporting facts is going to lead to questions which you might not be able to answer. Being unprepared will make you look incompetent and unprofessional. You will look much better in his eyes if you have facts and figures to back up your opinion.
3. Empathise with your boss
Try to see things from his point of view, as it will give you a clearer perspective. Imagine this scenario.
Your boss has just received a memo from the head office asking all branches to cut costs. Soon after, you go up to him and say: “Excuse me, boss. You know that printer you asked me to check on? It’s a piece of junk! I suggest we buy a new one. That will cost about $6,500. Is that OK with you?”
I’m sure you will agree that your chances of getting your proposal approved are very slim. But what if you approach the issue another way?
You say: “Excuse me, boss. You know the printer you asked me to check on? Well, I looked over the maintenance record for the last six months and found that our average monthly maintenance cost is $358. Our average cost per copy is 7.2 cents. The monthly instalment for a new machine is about $425 a month and the average cost per copy is only 4 cents. What do you think? Should we look into getting a new one?”
By providing facts and figures, and emphasising cost-effectiveness, you are likely to get your boss’s approval.
4. Don’t raise problems without possible solutions
Avoid becoming a problem child. If you have to go to the boss with a problem, be sure to have some possible solutions in mind. This shows that you have given the matter some thought.
You can influence him into agreeing to a particular suggestion by showing him your reasons behind it and the likely positive outcome. He might even think it is his idea.
You can do this by asking him, “Do you think we should…?”. If he says yes, it becomes his idea. That way, you get a commitment. Never mind if you put that idea in his head in the first place.
5. Get commitment by fixing specifics
It is a waste of effort to get your boss’s agreement but not his commitment.
So, confirm exactly when you can go back to him, set a date for the next meeting or determine a deadline for the budget — for example, to buy the new photostat machine.
If you keep these five points in mind, you will have less difficulty in selling your ideas to your boss. Remember to speak with confidence and conviction — not only will you get what you want, your boss will see you as a problem solver in the office!