Getting “Them” to Listen

Posted 12.15.2008

Once we’ve built a level of trust with each other, it doesn’t take very long in a conversation with a group of high potential leaders before someone brings up “they.” Once the dam is breached, everyone else chimes in with stories about how “they” don’t get it and “they” aren’t focused on the right things. The obvious question, of course, is “Who are they?” “They” always turns out to be senior management. “They” don’t pay attention and “they” don’t listen.

This is the point at which I usually ask this question, “What’s your reaction when someone on your team comes to you and says, ‘Hey Mary, there’s a problem we’ve identified, but we think we have some solutions for fixing it,’ or ‘Bob, we think we’ve identified an opportunity and we’re developing some plans to act on it.” A year or so ago, one woman in our group coaching program summed it up for all of her peers inside and outside of her company when she said, "Oh, my gosh, it’s like manna from heaven when that happens.”

Agreed. My response, then, is if you love it so much when that happens, why should “they”, (the people you report to) be any different? Interesting point, isn’t it?

Part of the problem, perhaps, is not knowing how or what to present. That’s where my blogging buddy, Dan McCarthy at Great Leadership, comes to the rescue. Over the weekend, he put up a great post on 10 ways to get management to listen to your ideas. Among his tips are these gems:

1.  Plan what you want to present. Don’t go in “thinking out loud.”

2.  Go in with ideas they’re likely to care about (raising revenues, decreasing expenses, capturing new business are all likely candidates).

3.  Be prepared to give it up. I’m not talking about something lewd here. The point Dan is making is you have to prepared to let go of it being “your” idea. The whole point is to put something out there that top leadership gets excited about and builds on.

Check out Dan’s list and then let both of us know, “What’s worked for you in getting “them” to listen?”