By Paola Pascual on May 29, 2019 1:03:00 PM
You have awesome ideas. Your proposals would have a great impact on your company, but when you present them to your manager, you get a #404 error - basically, your request was a fail.
If you’ve ever felt this way, it probably has nothing to do with you or your suggestions. In fact, they are all great.
The problem is the words. If you are a developer or an engineer, it's very likely that your manager and you don’t speak the same language. The hurdle is even bigger, of course, if you are not proficient in the language, but even if you were both native-English speakers, you wouldn’t still speak the same language.
You come from different backgrounds, you see the world differently, and more importantly - you have different motivations. Understanding this is the key to getting basically any ideas approved by your superiors.
If you have a scientific mind, you probably tend to rely on facts and logic in most discussions, but It turns out that this isn’t the best approach. There are other factors that will get you further. If you feel that often your ideas are not “within the budget” or you get a “no” more often than a “yes”, you may not be making your case effectively.
By the way, we'll be using both “boss” and “manager” in this article, and we basically refer to any decision-maker that you need to persuade.
How can you make your boss say yes?
We’ve worked closely together with developers and engineers with a great vision but who were having trouble getting their managers to say yes. They have applied our practical tips and have started making a greater impact at work. Keep on reading and we’ll share those effective tactics that you can start putting into practice now to make it happen too. Read now, thank us later.
#1 Hack your manager’s mind
If you want to make your manager say yes, you have to hack his/her mind. The first thing you need to do is understand what’s in their heads, and it usually involves the following:
- The priority is to cut costs
- I have more important things to focus on
- We already have enough (or even too many) projects going on
- I already got enough proposals this week
Once you understand this, you need to frame your pitch around their goals, which they often have to do with company growth and profitability increase.
Goal: you want to work remotely
What you think:
I would like to work from home because it will reduce stress related to commuting to work (plus, having the option to work from the bed sounds amazing).
What your boss wants to hear:
I would like to work from home, because not having to commute to work will allow me to start one hour earlier, plus with fewer interruptions, I would be more concentrated and could deliver projects faster.
If you feel more comfortable practicing with a teacher, get in touch and we'll let you try our online sessions for free. Our business English training will help you persuade your boss or manager.
#2 Gather all the data & emphasize the benefits
Do your homework. Compile metrics, relevant case studies, examples, competitors, reviews… Be ready to answer the following questions:
- Why should the company invest its limited resources in this idea?
- Why should we do this now as opposed to sometime in the future?
- How will this contribute to our current mission?
Once you’ve understood the corporate goals, you will need to put together all the information necessary to align your proposal with those goals. Because the thing is, when you have an idea, the advantages might seem obvious to you, but don’t assume that your boss will be able to see them straight away. Write down a list with all the benefits that will come if he/she gives the green light.
Make sure these advantages are as tangible as possible. If your proposal sounds ambiguous and profits seem unlikely, you’ll get a “no”.
Show them how your proposal will reduce an existing burden, how it will free up your team, simplify a process or take the stress off of something or someone.
Goal: you want to implement a new procedure that you created
What you think:
Seriously, this new procedure is very cool, easy to use, and it’s going to save all the developers a lot of time. Plus, I made it!
What your boss wants to hear:
With this new procedure, developers will be able to automate data compilation, which will increase productivity by 25% and the integration process will take less than a week. Companies like ABC and XYZ are using something similar and their employees have given amazing feedback.
#3 Add some extra sexy features
Add some sugar to your pitch. Apart from the core benefits, what are some potential bonuses that your company will get? These might be less tangible, but more attractive (like improved engagement, increased job satisfaction or reduced employee turnover).
Taking the previous example, you could claim that employees will have more time to focus on things that they find more interesting than collecting data, which will increase their motivation and engagement at work.
#4 Find the bugs before they show up
Now that you know what your manager wants to hear, you need to be ready for the comebacks. Be prepared for any objections that they might have. Anticipate their questions and doubts. Show what your company could miss out on if they don’t seize the opportunity or address the issue.
Understand both sides and document your responses in advance. If you find those bugs before your boss does, you will be able to offer solutions quickly - this shows professionalism and maximizes the chances of getting a YES exponentially!
Goal: get the company to pay for English lessons with Talaera
Possible bugs: it is an extra cost to the company
What you can say:
If we implement Talaera’s online lessons in the company, our team will communicate better with our overseas peers. Without misunderstandings and better communication, we’ll finish projects more quickly and effectively. If we don’t have any English lessons, we are actually losing $2,069 weekly in lost productivity.
#5 Show, don’t. tell
Like maximizing User Experience, make it as satisfying for your manager as possible. You will get a higher conversion rate (or more ‘yes’ situations) if they like what they see.
Also remember, if your proposal sounds intimidating, it will probably be turned down. People tend to dislike big changes, so break a large project into smaller and easier-to-process stages. Your boss will find it easier to digest and will feel more secure.
When you break down your idea into smaller steps, it also helps you calibrate and adapt throughout the process, as you see what works and what doesn’t.
Examples: use a mockup of what you want to do, connect with potential clients, create a video, animation or other types of visuals and add comments to it.
#6 We are not creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion
As the great writer Dale Carnegie said:
“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but creatures of emotion.”
When you communicate with your boss, use emotional language. Some decisions feel abstract - not easy to correlate with productivity. You will find it more effective if you make them feel personally involved.
Use relatable language and focus on emotional appeals to build more compelling arguments. Ever heard of FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out? Use it to your advantage and let them see what they could miss out on if they don’t approve your proposal.
… but careful with emotions!
Make sure you show positivity and don’t display negative emotions. A study by the Academy of Management shows that employees tend to get lower reviews if they were not able to regulate their emotions.
List of emotional words:
Positive emotions: glad, grateful, happy, success, motivation, insight, creativity, enthusiasm, spark, genius, boost, strengthen
Negative emotions (limit the use of these words): nervous, unsure, uncomfortable, worried, scared, frustrated, fooled,
Curiosity: Interest, wondering, eager, searching, hidden, insider
Security and comfort: assure, make sure, secure, trust, unconditional, tested, results, research, refund, backed, money back, privacy, official, protected, verified
#7 Be the hero!
Have you heard of the book Power? Jeffrey Pfeffer points out that the way you make your manager feel is often as important as your performance:
“Make sure that those in power notice the good work that you do, remember you, and think well of you because you make them feel good about themselves. It is performance, coupled with political skill, that will help you to rise.”
Put your manager’s ‘gut feeling’ in your favor and let them you how much you are worth. Building a reputation takes time, so be patient, and keep building up your credibility and expertise.
Examples you can use: cite any awards you got, share reviews from top clients, build rapport with your colleagues, highlight previous successes
#8 To choose time, is to save time.
It’s all about timing. Use time and opportunity to your advantage. When is the best opportunity to make your case? Find your manager’s ‘best time’ and get on the schedule!
Make sure they’re not preoccupied with other thoughts, otherwise they will not listen properly. Same goes with multitasking - you need to be the center of attention the moment you present your idea.
Example: is your manager an early bird? Schedule a quick meeting first thing in the morning. Do they feel more relaxed and receptive after they’ve dealt with their top priorities? In that case, better to wait until the end of the day.
Create a sense of urgency, show what your company could miss out on if they don’t seize the opportunity or address the issue.
How? Try these: compare your company with competitors, mentioning what others can do/are doing, point out why it is important to do it now and not wait.
#9 Keep it short
Time is gold, and your manager is busy, so cut your time in half!
Prepare your pitch in advance and time yourself. Make sure you state your idea and make it clear and concise, but don’t take up too much time or they will get impatient.
✭ #10 GOLDEN RULE: Recode your message ✭
People agree faster when they feel it was their idea all along. As long as you don’t mind not getting all the credits, reformulate your message so that it seems it came from them.
Research proves that using the same type of reasoning as the person you’re trying to persuade is much more effective than using a different one. Some people follow a more logical type of reasoning, while others follow a more emotional approach.
If you decide to go for logical reasoning, use the following words: analyze, accurate, calculate, check, consider, determine, experiment, find, measure, plan, predict, show, verify.
If you decide to go for emotional reasoning, use: believe, better, feel, guess, imagine, motivate, worry, suppose
How to do it?
- Plant the doubt - you can do it through a statement or a question
- Don’t tell him/her, just pose questions - without showing your real intentions, use questions to increase that doubt
- Elicit your ideas in your boss’ mind - subtly guide them to come to the conclusion you have in mind
- Once he/she agrees, use his/her own terms and phrases, restructure your questions and lead them on to your own conclusion
Your vision could be incredibly good, but your ideas are worth nothing if you don’t follow the right strategy to present them. With these ten tips, you will increase your chances of success exponentially.
Put these tactics into practice and let us know about the results. There’s nothing we love more than hearing your feedback!
If you're ready to take your professional English to a whole new level, check out all our business English programs or talk to sales (they will be your language consultants and will give you advice on how to maximize your English learning). It's the kind of training you look forward to, and you can choose to do it on your own with your teacher or in groups:
Remote. Flexible. Effective.
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