Getting your bosses and colleagues to back an idea or cause they don’t fully support can be tricky. Sasha Gonzales finds out how four women successfully engineered buy-ins.
1. Be systematic in rolling out your plan
“I had just become a mum and my mother was ill, so I needed a healthier work-life balance. But the company I worked for at the time didn’t have a flexible work arrangement, so I had to find a way to persuade my boss to let me work from home on certain days.
That meant devising a completely new system to ensure that the workflow would not be disrupted and that my team would be able to achieve its targets in my absence. I also had to implement a clearer reporting structure.
We tested out the system, first for four weeks, then seven weeks, and finally, nine weeks, tweaking it along the way. It worked and was later implemented by other colleagues.” –Sher-Li Torrey, 39, entrepreneur.
2. Emphasise a win-win for all
“When the opportunity arose for my previous company, a hotel, to host a TED talk, I jumped at the chance. The catch: the partnership involved a sponsorship deal, which we had not budgeted for. But I knew the event would garner good publicity and build brand awareness for the hotel, so it was just a matter of convincing my bosses.
I worked on a plan to make it happen, which included listing the ways it would benefit the hotel. After my bosses gave the go-ahead, it came down to selling the idea to our operations team. We were targeting an audience of 1,000, so I pitched the idea of ‘incremental revenue’ – the additional income the hotel would receive from the attendees’ spending at the hotel. It worked and the whole team rallied together to get the event oﬀ the ground.” – Liz Wan, 37, marketing communications director.
3. Back up your idea with research
“I’d read about a few companies overseas that had dedicated a day to health or well-being, and thought our company would benefit from doing the same.
While my boss didn’t buy into the idea initially as he saw it as a waste of time, most of the staﬀ were keen. Armed with some research and the results of a survey I had conducted, I pitched the idea to my boss again. But instead of giving employees a day oﬀ, I suggested arranging an afternoon of activities that promote well-being – such as yoga and meditation, which could help them de-stress and boost work performance.
After a month of tireless pitching, my boss finally relented. We’ve had two such sessions since and everyone who participated has reported lowered stress levels and better mental clarity.” –Alice Lim, 35, IT manager.
4. Make it painless
“Knowing how mentorship can boost employee satisfaction and develop leadership qualities, I broached the idea of a mentoring programme for my new company. My suggestion was met with resistance from my colleagues and bosses, who felt that it was unnecessary.
To further my case, I wrote up a plan for my supervisor, explaining how such a programme could help junior team members learn new skills and improve their work performance. I also listed the ways it would benefit the company and devised a system for matching mentors with mentees. The best part was, it wouldn’t cost the company a cent.
My supervisor loved my pitch and took it to our department head, who approved the programme. It’s been several months now and I’ve received great feedback.” – Julie Ng, 39, sales manager.