How to Get Management to Really Consider Your Ideas
A manager, Roger, had been attempting for more than a year to get executive support for a project that would require significant funding and resources. Then senior management brought in a consultant who made the very same case Roger had been making, and voila: support for the project was forthcoming.
Sometimes, high-priced consultants—or overpriced consultants, as Roger put it—are the only way to get the message through. These outsiders may be worth what they charge if the result is getting the top people to direct their support your way. Still, what manager wouldn’t prefer to generate executive support without the benefit of consultants? If you’ve struggled as Roger did, it could be worth contemplating what would help you get your message out and up.
For example, do you actively seek senior management awareness of your efforts, or do plod along, figuring that the higher-ups are paying attention to what you’re doing? (Hint: they’re not.) Do you package the results of your activities and ship them to the executive suite? If so, do you present your efforts in terms of busyness? Or do you focus on results, documenting what the company has achieved through your efforts?
A key to getting management buy-in is identifying the issues that matter most to those at the top, then documenting and communicating how your services, products, or projects can address those issues. Like everyone else, executives want to succeed. If you can make a persuasive case in terms of budgets, resources, impact, and so on that your efforts can help them be successful, you’ll be upping the odds that they’ll listen.
You may not always get what you want; after all, you’re competing with numerous other demands for their attention. But if your case is credible, even if you don’t get what you want this time around, you’ll be setting the stage for future attempts.
If your top management persists in perceiving value in the advice of outsiders only, you may be able to take advantage of that perception. One way to do this is to identify managers or executives who have the respect of senior management and are in a better position than you are to get through to them. If you can build credibility with these individuals, they can become powerful allies in helping you get the support you want.
You might also look for examples of other organizations that have succeeded in gaining support to do what you want to do, and invite representatives of those companies to talk to your management. This would be a consultant-free approach to using outsiders that would make Roger happy.