How to Propose Changes at Work
Many of us spend more time at work than anywhere else throughout the week. So when you see things which could improve through change, it's natural to want to share these thoughts with those who can make things happen. This can prove to be a big task which can fail, but by following these steps chances are your voice will be heard and your proposed workplace changes will be accepted.
Research the current environment with context to your idea. Make sure you understand how things are currently operating at work, and be aware of any changes already on the horizon. Note details on what works and what isn't working.
Identify your target audience. Verify the people you are sharing your ideas for change with are those who can either approve the ideas, or can discuss them with those who implement workplace changes. Include the person you directly report to so you are not seen as going over their head.
Oppose your own idea--or at least think of how you would. This helps to anticipate the questions you'll get and allows you to prepare responses so you're not stumped during your proposal. Think of both the pros and cons which could be associated with your proposal.
Create your proposal with both a written and oral element by giving a presentation. Detail out your ideas, including how you would implement them and how these changes will benefit the current operating environment. Use the research you have done in the previous steps and the audience you have targeted to help you draft up your presentation.
Schedule a time to meet with your target audience and make the proposal. Verify with the invitees you are not missing anyone who should be included, and schedule enough time for your presentation, including question and discussion time.
Respond to questions about the changes you are proposing. In order for this process to work, you must be open to other ideas your concept has triggered. Think about your responses first and be careful not to react on emotion alone.
Obtain buy-in. You might not get immediate support, but be resilient and check back with your audience to see if they need any other information from you. Acceptance of your ideas, and even the fact you had a well-planned proposal helps others look to you as an asset to the organization which will help you get ahead.
- Understand most people tend to resist change, even when it will help so don't let this discourage you.
- Be flexible. If your ideas are well-received but there is a difference in opinion on how to implement workplace changes, be willing to talk through and accept another's option instead of your own.
- Remain professional, even if holes are being poked in your proposal. Those discussion points may actually make your changes more viable.
- How you propose workplace changes is just as important as what it is you're proposing. Preparation is key, and if you aren't receptive to questions and other comments regarding your ideas you'll likely be unsuccessful even when the ideas are solid.
- Don't allow yourself to be discouraged if your ideas are not accepted, or if you feel like no one will implement them. Sometimes changes are not feasible in your work organization for reasons which may not be shared with you, so don't let this deter you from voicing changes in the future.