Presenting an Idea to your Boss: a Strategic Guide to Success

Writer: Rex Lau
Identifying the problem: "The 5 Whys"
When you want to propose an idea to the company, use "The 5 Whys" to see whether your idea is really needed, usually going through this filter will outline the problem that you believe the company has the capacity to fix. Ask yourself "why" 5 times to get to what you believe is an underlying problem within the company.

Contribution to the Company
What will the company get from your proposal? What changes will your proposal bring upon your coworkers? Will their workload increase significantly? How long will your proposal take to be implemented fully within the corporate system? These are all aspects that you need to think about while creating you proposal.

Step 1: Choose the right time to present your proposal
NEVER do it on a Monday, and NEVER do it in the morning. Mondays are usually when work piled up from weekends need to be addressed, and a company's boss is most likely extremely busy and stressful, and according to psychologists, will more likely result in negative feedback. Mornings are when people are planning on their schedule for that day, or already hard at work. It is generally recommended that one presents their proposal late in the afternoon, as the boss will more likely be less rushed and relaxed than in the morning.

Step 2: Practice with colleagues / peers
You should practice your proposal to someone before you present it to your boss. Ask your colleagues to tell you whether you hit three main points that would make your proposal successful:

  1. Was the listener sold on the proposal?
  2. Were you professional and confident presenting the proposal?
  3. Is the problem clearly justified?

If your listener believes that all three points were achieved, you are on the right track. It is recommended that you practice your pitch towards at least three people.

Step 3: Relate your Ideas to the Boss
Your proposal has to accomplish something that interests the company. How your proposal plans on doing so should be acceptable under company standards, meaning that it will not exceed budget, have a reasonable schedule, and is manageable by current employees.

A suggestion on how to pitch the proposal is, "My idea will help you get [the desired result] in [X amount of time]". During the conclusion of your proposal, you should reiterate the goals of your proposal, summarize any follow-up actions needed, and ask for a deadline on your boss' decision.

It is also good to keep your boss engaged at all times during your presentation. The more engaged he is, the better, as it means that he possibly will be interested in looking further into your proposal. Accepting your proposal will make your resume look better, put you in good regard with the company, and open up opportunities for your career to develop.

Step 4: Ask for your Boss' Input
Your boss ultimately is the one that decides on the company's direction. Do not be afraid to ask him questions after the presentation, such as his expectations, ideal outcomes, and further input on improving your proposal.

Research shows that an employee's boss is more willing to develop a proposal if they are made to feel that they are taking part of the development of your proposal. Work with your boss during the upcoming weeks to refine your proposal until the desired model is achieved.

Concluding Note
Presenting a good proposal is beneficial both to the employee and to the company. Not only does the company receive good suggestions in moving forwards as a business, the employee gets to be recognized for his or her hard work, and be in the standings for a raise or a stepping stone in advancing upwards in the company.

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