Influencing Your Boss

Sections of this topic

    sell ideas to boss“How can I sell this idea to my boss?”

    That’s a question I often hear as a career coach. It usually comes from someone seeking to lead from the middle.

    Influencing up to obtain additional resources, or to impact a staffing decision, or to extend a deadline, or whatever requires both a business rationale and an artful pitch.

    Here are four steps for influencing your boss and convincing him that it makes good sense to consider your idea or request:

    1. See the world as your boss sees it.

    It’s impossible to sell an idea without understanding your audience’s perspective. What matters to your boss and to your boss’s boss? If they are under the gun to cut costs, then frame your idea in terms of reducing expenses. If customer satisfaction is a hot issue, then frame your idea as a means to improve customer satisfaction. Remember the focus of your “pitch” depends upon the boss’s priorities, not yours.

    2. Tune into your boss’s communication style.

    Think about how your boss likes to receive information. Does he want to hear a narrative of the idea or does he prefer to see the numbers first? Develop a presentation that plays to his needs. Also be aware of what are good times and bad times to make your “pitch”. Be attuned to his schedule, his demands and how much is on his plate.

    3. Make it real and relevant for your boss.

    There is nothing more powerful than taking your boss to the heart of the action. If you want to improve customer service, invite her to a customer focus group to hear the need first hand. If you are pushing to purchase new equipment, bring him to the factory and show how it can cut waste.

    4. Be the messenger they believe not kill!

    If you want to lead up, you must be perceived as competent, capable and connected. So, how are you perceived by your boss, your boss’s boss and even your peers? Are you considered a rising or falling star? What can you do right now to increase or enhance your personal credibility?

    Do you have a great idea that you want to “pitch” to your boss or to a key decision maker? Test it out on this blog and get my feedback.

    Do you want to develop Career Smarts?