• Catharine Wright

5 ways to sharpen your strategy and get your ideas heard

Introducing new ideas into a workplace can be a delicate task, and one that is often carried out ineffectually.

When you come up with ideas, don’t expect people to rush to adopt them; but don’t feel like it’s not worth trying just because you get little or no reaction.

Instead, sharpen your strategy to be more impressive and persuasive. Sometimes you need to work to discover key information, outside your knowledge area, that both leverages your suggestions and makes your colleagues more receptive to them.

Here are some ways to sharpen your strategies, especially if you are new to a role.

1. Research options thoroughly

It’s tempting to feel that you already know what’s missing in a company’s portfolio. While you may have a good grasp of the big picture, it’s likely you are not across everything. There’s many variables in any context, and the worst mistake you can make is being a know-all, especially if you’ve just commenced a role.

To glean a well-rounded understanding of the business, read company news reports, or anything else you can get your hands on; find what is available and lap it up. Put your research and investigative skills to use without behaving like an interrogator. Make notes and practice keeping an open, impartial mind. Find out what you don’t know and uncover things you should know but never realized.

2. Welcome different perspectives

Attend as many company seminars and brainstorm sessions as you can and volunteer to help other teams within reason. At first it can be difficult to hear the wheel being reinvented so often, but learning to understand others’ perspectives and needs gives you an edge. You may realize that airy dismissals of the company’s processes and software, for example, might be misplaced. The IT department, which you thought was your nemesis, might become a support base and then an invaluable means of pooling different perspectives.

3. Shape and test ideas

Recognize the company’s website needs and content direction. Find opportunities to deploy your (non-confidential) news and collaborate with other groups both within and external to the company. Discuss ideas, find out about others’ developments; read and absorb widely, and explore things you can do within budget. Try different ways of showcasing information to see what people gravitate towards. 

4. Seek critical feedback

Don’t work in isolation; welcome others’ feedback. At first, you might feel cautious, not being too keen on some colleagues’ abrasive negativity. For your initiatives to gain traction, you need to inoculate yourself by exposure to criticism; it’s better to be ‘immunized’ and thereby make the most of feedback from all sources. Even when people focus too strongly on something, their point of view should be valued.

5. Be clear on milestones

Sometimes you might just realize you have been procrastinating. Not for the usual reasons, but because you’ve persuaded yourself that no one really welcomes your ideas, or any new ideas or changes for that matter. If you’ve come across as vague and non-committal (possibly flaky) in the past, try presenting management with a timeline for delivery of your initiatives, ensuring they also know that you’ve consulted widely and that you have ‘buy-in’ from other important interface points of the company.

Make your mark! Become a member of the company brains trust and hone your strategy within the context of the company. Each component of a strategy must be sharp to make the overall strategy a success.