how to present ideas

How to Present Good Ideas to Your Boss

Posted by Stacey Papp

Whenever you read about a company, you usually hear about the CEO or president as the “idea person” – the one who is helping to “disrupt” an industry or “transform” the business.

But just because the higher-ups are the faces of the company in news articles or on websites doesn’t mean they’re the only one coming up with the ideas. In fact, a good company is one that wants to hear from all its employees – not just the ones in corner offices – and actively solicits this feedback from employees.

Think about it: Doesn’t it make more sense to listen to the people in the trenches like the dispatchers and service managers, who work directly with the customers and field techs, when it comes to ideas on how to change company operations?

Of course it does.

The question then becomes: If you have an exciting idea that will help the business and make your work life easier – whether it’s a new workflow process or implementing a new tech tool – then how do you go about presenting it to your boss or supervisor?

The most important thing is to have a plan to show you’ve put a lot of thought into this.

Set a place and time.
It’s not recommended that you “just drop in” to your supervisor’s office to chat about a new idea. Everyone at a fleet business is pretty busy, and for people who like to plan out each day and week, an unexpected meeting can throw them off – and make them less receptive to you.

Be very clear about how your idea will add to the organization. Think of this like you would at a job interview – you want to make sure your boss sees you as someone who will add value to the company, not just someone who needs a paycheck. So come prepared to talk about the benefits you think it will bring, as well as a rough estimate of how soon the company would reap those benefits (immediately? Six months? A year?).

Try to guess any possible objections. If it’s a new product, is your boss going to say there isn’t room in the budget? If it’s a new process, will he or she say that the old way is working just fine for now and there is no need to teach everyone something new? By trying to imagine your supervisor’s objections and any possible risks the company might take in implementing this idea, you can be ready to mount a defense. You can even head this off by bringing up some possible obstacles yourself and how they can be handled.

Tap your coworkers.
Especially if they are going to be affected by your idea, make sure to run it past your coworkers for their input. They might come up with an objection you didn’t think about or give you a new direction to take your presentation in – so encourage them to be a tough critic.

Figure out what you individually and the company as a whole would need to do to make your idea happen. Show that you’ve thought through how this will impact operations across the board and workloads during any ramping-up period, including how long that ramp-up might take.  

Consider using visual aids. Visual aids are a powerful communication device and will help make your idea more real. For example, if it’s software or another product, try to find an online demo of the product or a video and bring a laptop computer to your meeting.  

Be enthusiastic and confident. This is your idea – show the boss that it energizes you to talk about how it could help your team.

Give your boss time. 
Let your boss know that you understand if he or she wants to think things through and that you’re available to answer any questions or send over your notes if he or she would like. Remember, your boss might not be on board with every idea you present – but don’t let that get you down. For example, if you hear about field services management software that will give more visibility into and control over operations, and help simplify back-end processes, provide better customer service and more efficiently manage a mobile fleet, your boss probably wants to know about it – and you could end up the office hero for raising awareness.

Now go get ‘em, tiger. 

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