8 steps to influence change at work (or how to win over your boss)

10th February, 2016

You know your business needs a change, but the boss can’t see past the cost. Or maybe you see the bottlenecks, but the boss just isn’t close enough to the problem to understand the pain.

So what do you do? You win over your boss.

The key to success for winning over your boss is all in the approach. Here is a step-by-step guide that will give you the best chance of a successful proposal.

1. Test the waters

Mention your idea to your boss in a casual forum and gauge the response. This will give you clear indication of what your boss thinks of the initial idea and how to prepare your proposal around this response.

2. Take a professional approach

Spend time thinking about the best way to communicate your ideas. Request time from your boss to present your proposal.

3. Beware of pitfalls

Look at the big picture — you don’t always know what else is happening in the business, so if your boss is under pressure, now may not be the right time to propose major changes.

Be sure that your proposal won’t be perceived as an attack or insult to those above you. Don’t challenge the business’s core values or undermine the boss’s ultimate goals.

4. Align your proposal to the strategic direction of the business

You need to demonstrate that your proposal will support the overall goals of the business. If the business is currently cutting costs and you are asking for an investment, use this to your advantage by highlighting the savings from your idea.

5. Do your research

Make sure everything for your proposal is thoroughly researched and documented. Present credible facts.

6. Prepare a business case

Your business case should lead your boss through the problem, highlight what happens if the proposal is not implemented, provide various solutions (and the pros and cons of each alternative) and finally recommend which option is the best.

Put yourself in your boss’s shoes and think about what’s in it for them. Your idea might make your job easier, but you have to convince the boss that there are overall benefits to the business. Use our building a business case cheat sheet to help you prepare.

7. Present a cost/benefit analysis

Pitch your proposal as an investment for the business, not a cost. The cost/benefit analysis should clearly show the benefit to the business from the investment made. Our cost/benefit analysis cheat sheet will show you exactly how to do this.

8. Make it easy to say yes

Clearly identify what needs to happen if the proposal is accepted by detailing all steps and what resources will be needed. If your proposal requires cooperation from others in the business, get them on board with your idea before you present the case. If you don’t get an immediate yes to your proposal, request a trial period. Then your boss can monitor and measure the results before making large-scale changes.

If by chance you are unsuccessful, find out why and what will be needed in the future to get the proposal accepted.

You are one of the business’s best assets, so don’t stand back — go out there pitch your proposal and show your boss what you can do.

READ: Change: how to get people on board?