lThis is the last part of the series, What To Do When You’re The Only One Who Speaks Up.
We’ve talked about reasons why you’re not getting heard.
Now let’s talk about how to get heard.
If you haven’t downloaded the free pdf yet, you can do that here.
Have you heard the phrase, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”?
We’re going to be talking along those lines, but rather than talking about what you’re wearing, we’re going to be talking about how you’re presenting and the conversations you’re having.
Let me ask you a question.
What are the personalities of the people who you need to present your idea to? Think about that for a few seconds, if there are more than just two or three people, it may be beneficial to write it down somewhere.
If you’re new here, WELCOME!! I’m glad you found me! This is part three of a blog series that talks about being the only one who speaks up at work.
If you haven’t read the other two parts yet, I’ve put the links below.
If you don’t have time to read it all now, I get it...you might have five minutes after the kids go to bed to scan something, right? Either save it to your Pinterest or share it on FB or even save it to your home screen so you can easily come back to it later!
Let’s talk personalities
Can anything else describe the people you need to present this idea to?
One you know who you’re dealing with, you will be more successful in getting your point across.
Now let’s talk what you’re presenting
Now you can determine who exactly you need to talk to.
For a smaller company, you probably only have to talk to one person about things like soap or coffee, maybe two for the bigger things, at least initially.
If you’re with a bigger company you may have to talk to five or six people in order to get your idea heard. And, further into this, you may have to do one level of management first and then the next level in a second presentation, based on how the first presentation went.
With either, the process is pretty similar
Grab the free checklist to guide you through the process
Keep it handy on your phone or print it out and keep it close by.
When cost is involved...
This will be a much easier process because...numbers...everyone likes definitive numbers.
Get three quotes.
Three is the optimal number to essentially make sure you’re not getting screwed.
Whether it’s business or personal, whether it’s a product your supply manager or purchasing department gets at scheduled intervals or a contractor doing work, always get three quotes.
With three you will likely have one quote that’s really high or really low and two others that are around the same price, give or take.
If you choose to get more than three, you’re going to overwhelm and confuse yourself.
There will be a much wider range of pricing, which would indicate very different features in the product or service you’re having quoted.
If samples are needed, don’t be afraid to ask for them for free. I would suggest not giving the vendor an option of charging a “small fee”.
We often give people and “out” when we ask for something, we’ll say “I was wondering if I could get some samples of your most popular coffees, we can pay for them if you want.”
Of course they want you to pay for them!!
If they’re a decent company, they’ll refuse, but some companies will take full advantage of you offering to pay for something like that.
So make sure you phrase it in such a way that you will get several free samples. Something like “We have quite a few coffee addicts in the company, would you be able to provide us with some free samples that would last a few days so that we can try various blends and get a consensus on what the majority like?”
Make it a little funny, but also make it seem like it’ll mean decent money for the company you’re considering dealing with.
“With as much as we all love our coffee here, you may have to keep extra on hand just for us!” Insert business laugh here.
Remember when Monica and Chandler had to have business laughs when they had to go to a thing for Chandler’s job?
Do you have a business laugh?
I don’t...my laugh is my laugh. But I did have a school laugh back in the day when I was on the shy side - it was a slight smirk with a short breath through my nose.
The point being, let your personality show, people want to help people and if you show your personality when talking to potential vendors, they’re more likely to give you a better deal than what you asked for.
Let’s talk about it being more of a people-y thing, like a morale thing
If this is what you’re proposing a change with, you will have to figure out how to quantify it because...again, numbers…
If you’re suggesting a monthly potluck with an extended lunch - why is this beneficial? Why should the company consider “losing” 30 minutes or an hour or time mid-day?
How do you measure morale? Could you do a legitimate anonymous survey? SurveyMonkey and SurveyPlanet are great for this even Google Forms, as they can all be customized to what exactly is tracked.
Everyone has gmail, so Google Forms is free. As for SurveyMonkey and SurveyPlanet, you can set up an account for free.
You would likely have to clear it with HR and let them see what you’re sending out first, but if it’s just a couple simple questions like
Take your suggestion, along with the suggestions from those who took the survey, and create your facts and figures
Research articles on how morale affects revenue, what current employee engagement rates are, what are the pitfalls of having disengaged employees.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
What if you’re trying to change a process
Time...which then converts to revenue and profits...this is what you want to measure.
What’s the existing process?
How much time does each function take - best case and worst case
What are you proposing
How much time does this save per function - best case and worst case
How does this relate to saving the company?
Does this allow employees to get more done in other facets of their jobs?
What departments benefit?
Regardless of the personality type of those you need to run this past, facts and figures are hard to argue with.
If you can, present to everyone at once.
Strategic? Also yes.
If you present to one or two people, they may or may not like your idea and they may squash it before it gets to the people who have the REAL say in the decision.
If you present to everyone at once, all the right people hear your presentation at once. This sparks ideas in the executives who want the company to be employee and customer friendly.
What often happens when you present to the first tier or two of management is that...they do their job...kinda…
They are there to be a filter, sometimes a barrier, between all the crap and the executives. With some things, this is completely acceptable.
The executives don’t need to know that there are a couple of employees who are banning together to oust a manager...middle management needs to know that and handle that.
But there are certain cases where they’re only looking out for themselves. The ideas they hear are excellent, but they don’t want them pushed forward because the executives will ask, “Why didn’t think of that?”
I worked for a company, ages ago, in a different life, where a serious problem with a manger was brought to the attention of one of the executives. The executive was so upset by the situation and admitted, and I’m paraphrasing, “They don’t tell me anything. I’m totally out of the loop when it comes to what’s happening with people.”
Now, I need to reiterate, in some situations, this is acceptable.
That’s the job of middle and upper management...to filter what goes through to the executives because they have more important things to deal with than some trivial 5th grade drama that’s happening between a couple people in different departments.
But, in some situations, the barrier causes more harm that good. And it’s all contingent on the personality of the managers.
So...this is why I recommend gauging the personalities of those you need to present to. So you can determine if you need to have them all together, or if you can allow two meetings with the different groups of people.
As for the presentation.
Keep it short. The longer you talk, the longer you’re likely to dig yourself into a hole that will get you a resounding NO.
I’d say no more than 15-20 minutes. You’re dealing with managers who, just like you, have a million other meetings to go to and a million other metrics to check and chart.
How to do it
If there’s anything in the Q&A that gets asked that you hadn’t thought of, smile and say you’ll be happy to get the information and send the answer to everyone. Give a time frame when they can expect their answer.
Send minutes afterwards, including questions asked and when you will be providing answers.
Try to get those answers to them BEFORE the date and time you had promised.
Underpromise and overdeliver...not a new concept by any means, but a concept that many people have forgotten about in the rush to get the sale, to get their changes made, etc.
Mama, you’ve got this.
Hindsight being 20/20, I can almost guarantee that the process change that I had suggested would have been implemented had I taken this route.
But instead, I was counting on the fact that I was a top performer, that “the right” people told me I was an asset to the company, that my passion was “valued”...but with this, not so much.
Don't forget to grab the free PDF - I know you know this stuff - but sometimes some of it slips to the back of our mind. Don't let that critical step slip and put you at a disadvantage
Thank you for taking the time to read this three part series.
If you didn’t start from the beginning, I’ve linked to the other two parts below.
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We’ll chat next week, mama...make it a good one!
Hey, I'm Natalie and I'm an author, a wife, and mom of two kids and two dogs.