Many employees just get lost in the crowd of the workplace. They do their jobs well, they are very nice people, but they just don’t stand out. The importance of being proactive in the workplace cannot be overstated. If you want to stand out at work, you need to have ideas and present them in a compelling way. It could be an idea as grand as how the company can increase revenue. Or it could be an idea as small as a new way to organize employee birthday parties. As long as it’s a solid suggestion that could improve the way things are done, it will get attention.

How should you go about presenting your idea to the boss? Here are a few things to think about after that light bulb goes off over your head:

Do your due diligence

Imagine sitting at your desk when you’re suddenly struck with inspiration! You have a fantastic idea that could revolutionize something in the company. You jump up, turn to your boss’ office… But hold on a moment. Right after you tell them your idea, the next thing they will say is “Ok, so what’s next?” Will you have an answer?

Before you jump into the deep end, you have to make sure you’ve thought everything through. Know all of the pros and cons of your idea. What are the benefits, the costs, and risks? Try to work through every question that your boss might ask you. You may not have all of the answers, but you will get a better response if you’re prepared for at least some of the questions. Look at every side of your idea, try to figure out if it could be beneficial in more than one way. Especially if your idea involves incurring costs or company resources.

Get buy-in from other employees

You’ve fleshed out your idea in your head and you think that you have all the angles covered. Before approaching your boss, it might be a good idea to solicit opinions from relevant people and stakeholders. What do they think of your idea and would they be supportive of it? After presenting the idea to your boss, present this employee support as evidence of your due diligence. If you’re concerned that the boss might feel blindsided or pressured into liking or approving your idea because of “popular support”, make it clear that you only shared the idea with others to get some feedback. Make sure that your boss knows that you respect their opinion and authority, and that they have the final say.

Be Open Minded

So you’ve pitched your idea to the boss: You have planned it out and you’ve gotten other people to support it. Then your boss says “I have a better idea.” Don’t panic. Just as you want your boss to keep an open mind about your idea, recognize that your boss might have their own ideas about what could or could not work. If your idea isn’t immediately accepted, don’t be discouraged. First, ask your boss about their idea. Become involved in it, be a sounding board. This will show that you are flexible, a great member of the team, and also that you can be trusted with more responsibility than you currently have.

After your meeting, ask your boss if there’s anything that they could advise before you prepare your next pitch. Remember that, just because your idea got rejected doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good one. Sometimes there are realities that you don’t know about. Maybe the company is already in the business of restructuring. Or maybe there just aren’t the resources to move ahead with your idea at this time. Learn from this experience so you’re better prepared for the next.

Standing out at work can be difficult. Remember that, even if your idea doesn’t get accept, you’ll have taken a proactive step in your career. You stood up and expressed your opinion and ideas. That kind of initiative stands out and will be remembered. Be brave!

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