Businesses thrive by listening to employee input on what’s working – or not. New perspectives and experiences can be eye-openers for management, and they frequently lead to the implementation of new practices. However, approaching your manager can be a stressful and, at times, unsatisfactory process. Not every manager is willing to listen to feedback that might force change or suggest that the company isn’t running as smoothly as everyone thought. You can present your ideas in an effective way by first asking yourself pertinent questions.
“Am I presenting a unique viewpoint?”
Often, people lower-ranking in an organization see the need for change because they’re the ones speaking to customers, learning about competitors, and fielding complaints on a regular basis. Sales and customer service representatives often have the most reliable knowledge about product quality. You have information that many senior managers are insulated from in this scenario. Use it.
A memorable experience can certainly inspire change in a business. Often, the most effective, if not the easiest, way to persuade management is to invite them to experience a problem firsthand. A manager who goes on a sales call and learns why a customer prefers the competition will be more open to possible strategies to address that situation. Likewise, a senior manager who takes a call from an irate customer will witness how product quality can directly impact the customer – and the company’s success. Learning opportunities are abundant in a business’s daily operations. When these instances are used for reflection and improvement, the business is empowered.
“Am I collecting valid and reliable information?’
Effective change is based on helpful data. By maintaining accurate records documenting customer feedback, financial trends, and competitors’ strategies, you can create an effective presentation of data that will command management’s attention. When preparing and delivering your presentation, it’s important to remember that the data interests your management team. Data presented in an unemotional and factual manner communicates clearly. Well-intentioned and well-researched presentations sometimes go awry because employees are too emotionally invested and can’t help but infuse that emotion in their presentations. By removing the possibility of clashing personalities, your impact becomes stronger.
“Am I aware of what motivates the stakeholders?”
Companies often respond to either opportunities or threats. Does your company work to minimize risks, or is it seeking to push boundaries? If you present your ideas in a manner consistent with the orientation of the company, you increase your chance of being heard. For the threat-oriented company, presenting the change as a loss in market share would resonate. For the opportunity-oriented company, change should be presented as a way to increase sales or achieve dominance in a particular market.
Change is what propels successful companies into the future. With key questions and strategies that effectively communicate your ideas, you can help create that change. The company benefits from your unique perspective, and you benefit by presenting yourself as a professional and helpful voice that recognizes when problems occur – and seeks to find solutions.