From time to time, I’ve been asked to make a list of my design ideas, or to develop a better proposal for an idea I have. This really irritated me: didn’t he believe me? Didn’t he trust my ideas? But in the constant battle to become a better businessman, I’ve taken a bit of time to think about why this happens. He’s not out to get me, right? Yours isn’t either. Lets take a look at the Why - with a bonus section: how you should respond, as a boss, to reduce the potential animosity amongst your team members.
Why Make the List/Proposal
Having been sent in as a sort of hatchet-man to fix broken code all over, I’ve noticed a lot of code that hasn’t been planned out. Additionally, the various different business needs weren’t reviewed. This combination of ‘misses’ can be combated with proper list making. Its important to review items that you wish to accomplish as well as find other holes.
Sometimes two is better than one
Another point, that goes kind of hand in hand with the previous, is that two heads are better than one. When you put your thoughts on paper, others are able to look through it and review with you. Sometimes that back and forth dialog is some of the most valuable when designing a new project.
They may know things you don’t
Some bosses have put in the man time to become an expert and your supervisor. Others are just there by position and rank. Chances are, however, that they know things that you don’t. Your proposal provides a good venue for them to solidify those thoughts and apply them to this idea. I’ve been in both situations - the boss has forgotten information - or - has specific information that he’s restricting from you. Both times, the proposal has brought out needed, unknown to me, information.
Keeps the lines of communication open
Having been a supervisor before, I know that the lines of communication are very important. There is nothing more irritating than a member of the team going off and doing their own thing. As a boss, you’re charged with keeping an eye on everything and making sure everything goes smoothly. Its important to have a general idea of what everyone is working on so that you can assess the needs, priorities and overlaps.
How should you, mr. Boss Man, respond?
Review the List
Whatever you do, make sure to review the list. You asked for it, now look at it. Nothing can be more discouraging to an employee than seeing management neglect the work they do.
If the idea is good, encourage it
Congratulate the employee on a job well done and encourage them to proceed with this idea.
Give ownership away
Even if its something you came up with, give the ownership of the project to the proposal writer. This not only shows that you are willing to trust them, but it gives them a sense of confidence. Generally, the output of a project like this will be of higher quality.
Follow up on the proposal
Whether or not it was accepted immediately, mark some time on your calendar to follow up with the idea. If they’re revising it, check in on it. If its going to production, ask about the progress. The important part of this is to care about the idea and person, not seem like you’re being ‘big brother’
Don’t forget it during a review
During the performance review, make sure to take into account all of the hard work the employee has done with writing lists and proposals.
As you can see, I’ve come full circle. I’ve went from thinking it was BS busy work to seeing the actual case. I think, if this tool is used correctly, it can be very beneficial to the end product.