The 7 Steps to Making Your Awesome Work Idea a Reality
April 27, 2017
You have a great idea. So great. Seriously, it’s awesome. And you think it can change the fortunes of your team, your department; heck, even your whole organization.
But here’s the thing: to execute it, you likely need both the buy-in and help of other people. And to do that, you need to do two things: persuade people that it’s a good idea and then get people to help you to implement it.
Unfortunately, those two obstacles kill most great ideas. And soon you see other not-so-great ideas get implemented, and frustration overtakes you.
In the first, she gave the three rules to persuading people, to get that original buy-in. In the second, she outlined the four rules for making the ask, so you can get people to complete the action items needed to achieve your idea.
Let’s take them both one-by-one.
How to persuade people, in three steps
The first step to getting your idea implemented is persuading people it’s a good idea. The mistake most people make with this step?
“Influence is a huge part of our everyday life and in the workplace we tend to be overly reliant on logical appeal when we persuade others,” Bailey-Hughes said in her course. “We focus on the facts and the data, and certainly that is important, but even the toughest, most logical business people make decisions with more than just their logical sides. We all have a heart that goes into our decision-making, too.”
So you can’t just say the decision makes sense based off the numbers. To persuade someone, you need to appeal to their emotions as well.
How do you do that? Bailey-Hughes suggests following these three steps:
1. Align your pitch with the values of your listeners.
People inherently question what’s in it for them when considering a new idea. To persuade them, you need to explain how your new idea will give them something they care about.
In her course, Bailey-Hughes gave the example of a person trying to convince two colleagues to support your request to get a new piece of software for the office. One of the colleagues is very concerned about money and the other loves being the center of attention.
Bailey-Hughes recommends selling the one who is concerned about money on the financial benefits of the new piece of software. For example, by having this new piece of software it’ll help your colleague be more productive, and therefore potentially increase his bonus next year.
When talking with the person who loves being the center of attention, tell them the office is going to need an expert in that software who can teach everyone else how to use it, Bailey-Hughes said. You believe they’d be the perfect person to go to the training and then teach everyone else on the team how to use it – i.e., a job that’ll put them at the center of attention.
2. Show your own emotion when making your pitch.
People naturally respond to emotion. So if there’s something you really believe in, show your passion when talking about it.
Don’t force it. But, when you are in a meeting trying to persuade someone, don’t be afraid to let your emotions come out a bit. Explain why you think it’s important and let them feel the passion you feel for it.
3. Chose vivid words when making your pitch.
It’s one thing to say a company is losing money. It’s another to say it is “hemorrhaging” money.
It’s one thing to say that a budget cut is too indiscriminate to be effective. It’s another to say, “this requires a scalpel, instead of a hatchet”, as a former president once said.
Vivid words make your argument stick in the mind of your audience and ultimately makes you more persuasive, Bailey-Hughes said.
How to make the ask
Okay, great, you inspired people that your idea is a good one. The next part is making the ask – whether it be to allocate funding for your idea or for others to help you execute it.
This is often the most difficult part for people who don’t have much experience doing this. However, Bailey-Hughes said it comes down to doing these four things:
1. Actually make the ask.
Many people skip this step. They convince someone that their idea is a good one, but then don’t do the next obvious step: make the ask necessary for the idea to become a reality.
For example, say you need budget from your boss to pay for a new piece of software. While you might convince her the piece of software is needed, if you don’t actually ask for the money for the software, the conversation is pointless.
2. Find the right tone.
When making the ask, it’s all about being “positive, without being pushy,” Bailey-Hughes said.
On one hand, you don’t want to tentatively ask. For example, you wouldn’t want to ask your boss if they could “kinda maybe pay for this new piece of software, unless you don’t want to, no big deal.”
On the other hand, you don’t want to be overly aggressive either. As in, “I was planning on ordering this new piece of software unless I hear otherwise.”
Instead, find the middle ground. Stay positive and confident – “I’d like this piece of software” – without being pushy.
3. Make the next steps easy for the listener.
To increase your chances of a yes, make the next step for your listener easy. If you really want the piece of software, find out how much it costs and how to buy it. Tell your boss, “Hey, it cost $1,000 a month and I can put it on the company credit card; it’s all set up. All I need is your approval.”
That’s much more likely to get a yes than an ambiguous ask that requires more work on their end.
4. Create a sense of urgency.
There’s a reason every sale from car dealerships is a “limited offer” or commercials end with something like “get it while merchandise lasts.” While these are cheesy, you need to create a sense of urgency around your request.
Sticking with the software example, tell your boss you are about to work on a new project in a week, and this piece of software will make it much more efficient. Or that the quicker you get it, the more productive your team will be.
Creating a sense of urgency spurs people into action.
Too many good ideas aren’t implemented today not because the idea is bad, but because the execution of asking to implement the idea is bad. Often, people get frustrated when their good ideas aren’t implemented, but the reality is they need to look at themselves.
Sure, your idea might be great, but did you effectively communicate why it was a good idea to the key stakeholders? And did you make the necessary asks to make your idea a reality?
Chances are probably not. And it’s not because of a lack of talent, but because these are skills that need to be learned. If you’ve never learned them or have no experience with them, you’re unlikely to be effective at persuasion or making an ask.
This article should help. Following these rules will make you more persuasive and more confident at actually making an ask, and increase your chances of making your next big idea a reality.
Want to get better at communication? Check out our communication courses at LinkedIn Learning, which cover everything from persuasion to selling yourself to elevator pitches to giving critical feedback.