If you’ve been thinking about a project that you’d like to implement at your organization that is out of your job description but close to your heart, listen up!
This is the third in a series of 5 articles that address how you can do this when you’re not in charge at your organization.
You might be thinking –
‘I’d love to organize an energy challenge and educate my peers about the cost of energy’
‘Why can’t we get to zero waste? Our competition certainly has and look how much they’re talking about it – even if it has nothing to do with the products they offer!’
‘It’d be so fun to figure out ways we can grow sales by going green.’
Or any of a dozen similar thoughts.
First, congratulations – you see the forest from the trees, no pun intended.
You understand the importance of ‘going green’ and making a positive impact, and see how this could benefit your organization. And I’m guessing you’re also passionate about it, or at the very least, think this would be fun to do.
To implement your impact project, you may need to do some extra work aside from just presenting it, in order to ensure that you have a receptive audience.
In the first in the series on this topic, I addressed the importance of doing the job you were hired to do well, and looked at 9 ways to build your reputation and personal brand at work.
In the second article, I looked at 4 ways to align with your boss’ goals, which is another important step to getting heard.
In this article, I’ll be looking at more ways you can pave the way and stack the odds in your favor when you submit your impact project proposal, so that you can have it approved by your direct manager or whomever is ultimately in charge.
Some of you may be reading this and wondering – I don’t get it. How will this help me get this green procurement project implemented?
The answer: if you build goodwill with your boss, and have open channels of communication, your boss will be much more likely to not only consider but also support and maybe even champion a project that is not within your job description.
So, in addition to the two strategies I outlined in the first two blogs of this series, another way to stack the odds in your favor is to help your boss solve his/her problems.
This is the flip side of the prior article, in that it looks at the issues that your boss currently has, and tries to address them. Here are five ways to figure out what those problems are:
1. Put yourself in her shoes: Now that you know what your boss’ goals are (f you don’t, be sure to check out the prior article in the series), you hopefully have a better idea of what goals she will be focusing on in the near future. As you put yourself in her shoes, think about and anticipate the issues that she may have related to those goals, and have some suggested solutions ready to share with her. If you can preemptively figure these out and help her address these challenges, your value to her will likely increase. You are not only doing your job, but thinking ahead and supporting her to do hers, which lays the groundwork for a great work relationship.
2. Listen to what is and isn’t being said: You may have conversations about a specific project with your boss and feel like you’ve only been given part of the picture. If that’s the case, trust your gut and first be sure you understand the part that was shared with you by repeating what your boss said. If you don’t get any additional information doing that, ask him clarifying questions to help you get a better overall picture and get at the deeper issues, if there are any. As you are doing this, be sure to listen to understand versus preparing a response in your head while your boss is speaking. Also be open to the possibility that your boss may have a lot on his mind, and he may be telling you only part of the story because he is in a hurry, not because there is an issue he is omitting.
3. Ask: If you have done some background work and think there may be issues that your boss is dealing with, depending on your relationship, you can ask her about them directly. When doing so, be sure the timing is right – you’re not asking her as she is running off to a meeting or under pressure to meet a deadline. You also want to be mindful of how you phrase your questions – and be very clear that you are asking so that you can support and help your boss find solutions.
4. It’s all data – don’t take anything personally: If you do ask your boss for more information and you receive either a dismissive response or are basically told to back off, don’t take it personally. Pretend you are a scientist and are gathering data for an experiment. This is just another data point. If your boss isn’t ready to share, it’s ok. It could also be that he feels you don’t need to have all the data or that you can’t help with the problem he’s dealing with. Attaching meaning to his reaction could potentially cause unnecessary friction in the relationship, so let it go and focus on getting your work done.
5. Leave the door open: Your boss may not be ready to share issues that are near and dear to her heart and that she really needs help with for a variety of reasons. This may be specific to the problem or to the relationship you currently have with her. As you build the relationship, you’ll likely build the trust and she may be more willing to share and ask for help in the future. If you followed step 4 above, and you didn’t take it personally, then you leave the door open for her coming to you for support in the future.
If you are using this strategy and the steps above, be sure to share how it worked for you and the results!
In the next blog, I’ll be addressing additional ways to prepare for your project proposal to get the best reaction and response. Be sure to check back here next week!
In the meantime, be sure to download our free ’51 Ways To Make An Impact When Not In Charge’, to begin positioning yourself to implement an impact project TODAY!