In my new job, I have to make a presentation to upper management. In the past I’ve gotten tongue tied and failed to get support for a project. How can I get them to take my ideas seriously?”
Take a step back for a moment. When someone doesn’t understand your ideas immediately, don’t label him or her an ignorant bureaucrat or whatever. The issue is one of influence – how to get others to see your point of view and buy into it.
Whether you’re trying to get additional resources or to impact a staffing decision or to extend a deadline, it is similar to selling products or services to customers. They don’t have to buy; you have to influence them to say yes. But I’m not talking about pushing your ideas or products or services. Rather, influencing is an artful way to get people to see the value of what you’re offering and to encourage them to take action. Here’s how.
1. Put yourself in their shoes.
Think as they would when developing your proposal. Continually ask yourself: How would they view this? What would their response be? What are they most concerned about? In other words, what problems keep them awake at night that you can solve?
2. Build a foundation.
Gather facts, statistics, cases and other evidence that support your position. Then connect the dots between the “what” – your request or proposal and the “why” – how it will achieve specific goals and objectives. Don’ t assume they will make the connection. That’s your job. It is also the key to influencing up.
3. Test it out.
Asks others what is and what isn’t appealing about your ideas or suggestions. Find out if there are certain buzz words or key phrases that will get their attention. This helps you hone your presentation so that it won’t be immediately shot down or shelved. The more you’re on their wave length, the more likely you and your ideas will be taken seriously.
Career Success Tip
Influencing up, getting management to buy into your ideas and then act on them, requires personal confidence, professional credibility and skillful communication. Make sure you have all three.
Readers, what has worked for you in influencing up – getting your boss to buy into your ideas?
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- Copyright © 2011 Marcia Zidle career and leadership coach.