Feeling self-assured, I approached my boss with my suggestion--certain that he'd instantly marvel at my level of genius.
But, do you know what happened instead? "Hmmm... interesting," he said, while giving the idea what was obviously halfhearted consideration, "Let me run it by some other people and see what they think."
I walked away from that exchange feeling somewhat dumbfounded. I was positive that implementing my pitch would make a huge difference for everybody. So, why wasn't my boss enthusiastically jumping at this opportunity?
A Lack of Buy-In
At first, I was all too willing to blame it on my boss. Maybe he wasn't taking me seriously because I was the youngest employee in the office. Perhaps he didn't feel like he could make a decision without getting the input of other people. Or, maybe he was just too ignorant to recognize the brilliant idea that was right in front of him.
Then I realized something: Maybe the problem was me. Sure, I was already thoroughly convinced of the merit of my suggestion. But, maybe I hadn't invested enough legwork into persuading my boss.
As that situation illustrated to me, getting buy-in for your ideas takes a concerted effort. Here are four key tips to help you do just that.
1. Highlight the Problem
Nearly every idea you come up with exists to address some sort of problem. In my case, I was hoping to eliminate a bottleneck--a pain point that resonated with nearly everybody in my office.
When making a suggestion, it's important that you emphasize the issue that your idea resolves. By highlighting the problem, you'll better illustrate the need for a change.
With that in mind, people will be that much more receptive to your recommendation. It's a sales tactic that you'll see used in everything from commercials (particularly infomercials!) to in-person pitches.
Implement this same strategy for yourself, and people will be far more willing to give your idea the serious consideration it deserves.
2. Provide Reasoning
You have a suggestion that you know will work. But, usually your ego alone isn't enough to get buy-in from other people. You need to be prepared to explain exactly why you feel confident in your idea.
The most effective way to do this is to tie your recommendation back to the problem it's solving. What will your proposal accomplish?
Will you streamline a process or remove an unnecessary step? Improve a tool that your team uses regularly? Increase sales? Refine communication?
If you can describe in detail exactly how your idea addresses the pain point that you illustrated earlier, you'll have a much more engaged and convinced audience.
3. Provide Evidence
Even with those two tips in place, people might not be so ready and willing to jump on your bandwagon. Fortunately, there's nothing like a little show and tell to sway people to your way of thinking.
Before pitching your idea, take the time to do a test run if possible. Try out that new process and document how much time you save. Or, do some research to find some statistics or examples from other organizations who have implemented something similar.
The more you can support your suggestion with cold, hard facts and proof, the more difficult it will be to shoot down.
4. Say it With Confidence
Pitching an idea or recommending a change can be nerve-wracking. But, if you don't feel confident in your way forward, how can you expect anybody else to?
You shouldn't make your suggestion with your eyes on the ground and your hands fidgeting by your side. Instead, hold your head up, maintain eye contact, and provide your recommendation with as much self-assuredness as you can muster.
After all, people will be far more willing to listen if you make yourself worthy of listening to.
Getting buy-in for your ideas can be difficult at times. But, it's much easier if you put in some effort and follow these four tips. Give them a try for yourself, and you're far more likely to sway people to your way of thinking.