Change is necessary and unavoidable. At some point, we’ll all likely find ourselves trying to prove the change we want is worth it. With that in mind, we’ve put together 5 tips to help you convince your boss change is necessary:
- Be a stellar performer
Before you ever try to make a case for change, examine whether you are in a good position to do so. A high performer is more likely to receive approval on their requests than a low performer. Make sure to keep your word and do what you’ve promised. In the middle of your ask, you want your boss thinking about all the great things you’ve done for your company, rather than how disposable you are.
Your request can be as great as your reputation – if you are a high performer, you are in the position to ask for more because you are trustworthy and have a proven track record. Have that “Midas touch” before you request anything.
- Consider what’s on everyone’s plate
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” To Kill a Mockingbird’s famous quote has stuck with me since I was young. Before making your pitch, take time to think about your company and team’s objectives. Is there a large-scale project underway? Are there 5 more positions to fill and everyone is already working at full capacity? Remember it’s not just about what you want. What you’re pitching, when approved, will affect multiple people.
Now it doesn’t mean you can’t make your case, but it means your ask should align with the company’s current goals. Will your request make things easier? Will it complement the already stated goals? Will your suggestion save the company money? Make them money? The quickest way to produce care is ensuring the change will positively affect the company.
- Present solutions, not problems
The quickest way to kill momentum is to give your boss a laundry list of problems that lack solutions. Doing so simply magnifies the stress he or she probably already feels. When presenting your request for change, share the process from problem to solution.
A friend at a large pharmaceutical company saw his sales teams not reaching their goals because they did not offer all products available after a company acquisition. To help, he came up with a tool for the team to help identify new products for their accounts. He presented the problem, the solution (the new internal sales tool), the ROI and how the tool could be easily implemented. Rather than report the problem and stop there, he came up with a solution to benefit everyone. Remember, communicate where things are going well, move to what needs to be improved (change request), follow up with the solution, offer projected ROI and a plan for implementation.
As you present, be sure to communicate minimal risk to the boss. Start this process as a trial, set a time frame, have a way to measure results. The less risk to the boss, the more likely this is to get approved.
After your pitch, be prepared to hear your boss’ suggestions and add them to your plans. If they don’t offer suggestions, proactively ask for their feedback. You need and want their expertise. Ask for it.
- If approved, follow through. (IE – Make It Happen!)
Once you’ve made the pitch, be prepared for approval and have an implementation plan ready to go. Mock up a schedule you’d like to follow and be ready to share what you plan to start on the very next day. Hand select your key team members and connect with them right away.
It is up to you to ensure that the project happens without a hitch. By engaging key team members, setting up a schedule and delivering, you’re helping set yourself up for your next ask. Think of it as gaining more and more credibility. The effects of you making a single project happen are farther reaching than you might imagine.
Remember the story of our friend at the large pharma company? Not only did he receive approval for his request, but because he was able to make it happen and deliver a valuable solution, the sales tool he created was used as the “gold standard” for all other sales departments within the company. Delivering on your request is valuable to both you and the company.
- Communicate – keep your boss informed on progress.
Keep open lines of communication through all phases of the project. If you’ve started a software trial, for example, let the boss know how the implementation went, the efficiencies you’re already seeing, challenges you may have encountered, etc. Don’t let your project be a mystery after the pitch – make sure you’re sharing all you can about it.
Proactively seek out your boss’ feedback so you can fine-tune your project. After all, it’s not only about hitting a deadline but providing the best possible outcome for the company.
As you look to make an internal sales pitch and receive approval for your change request, make sure you’ve set yourself up for success. Be a stellar performer; consider what everyone has on their plate; present solutions, not complaints; if approved, follow through; and keep open lines of communication. Do those things and you’ll get the answer you want.
Next week we will wrap up this 3 part series by discussing how to specifically handle a software change initiative.