You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can't get them across, your ideas won't get you anywhere. -Lee Iacocca
I've worked with brilliant clients who could not express or clearly explain their ideas, or who would not speak up. The result? Minimal results, lost credibility, and a stagnant career. So, how do you present a new idea or solution to your key stakeholders, or persuade others on a different approach? What do you do? How do you begin? How can you have your say in a positive way?
Take my client Joe, a successful bank VP. His department has been so successful that the bank president wanted to take 30% of his team and disseminate it across the company, in an effort to bolster performance across departments. Joe thinks this would be the death knell of his success. He has worked tirelessly to develop and coach his team, and this move would take him back to zero. Besides being contrary to the best hiring approach, the president wanted to replace his key players with people already working in other departments.
Joe knew that this meant that his team would be infected with the poor habits and sloppy work from other departments … not that his team would miraculously “cure” lesser performers as the president hoped. Joe faced a critical junction and needed help to articulate his position.
You may have found yourself in a similar situation. Clearly, success in this situation depends on how well you sell your ideas. And yes, the ideas abound on these necessary topics:
Relationships 101 – How do stakeholders view your relationship? Relationship status is critical.
Credibility – You may feel that you are credible - and have the background and experience to handle the decisions that are presented to you. Does the decision-maker (or decision-making group) feel the same?
Communication Mismatch – As the "seller" here, it is up to you to patch over any communication mismatches that occur. In Joe's case, he will be advocating to a different decision-maker than usual, and should take that into account as he shares his message.
Alternatives – Make it easier for your decision-maker(s) to change their current path. Perhaps Joe could offer to develop a training program for other departments. What benefit can you offer in return for what you need?
Address these four topics and find that your relationship, credibility, communication style and ability to offer alternatives will soften an otherwise polarized situation.
Yet, none of the above will actually sell your ideas, so take these next three steps for your best chance of success:
- Are you being presented with a set of options that (you feel) won't work? Perhaps you have a solution that you would like to “sell” into the organization. Think first about how to clearly share your vision.
- Consider the four necessary topics described above (Relationships 101, Credibility, Communication Mismatch, Alternatives). Which ones could use more think or plan time before you do (talk to the decision maker)?
- Analyze your case before you make it: A case is a story that describes a problematic incident, event, or situation. It typically reports in-depth information about certain aspects of the situation with a conclusion (commonly) left open-ended. The mission of case analysis is to make sense of the given material and to identify appropriate actions for handling the case situation. Hold your opinion and seek the views and arguments of those who think the opposite.
Having your say in a positive way begins with analyzing the key issues which then become the basis for defining your most desirable outcome (and considering options available). This process often results in a diversity of opinion as participants view the case situation from their unique perspectives and different values. Such diversity of opinion is the often the strength of your case analysis. Now, go have your say.
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