Wednesday, January 4, 2017

How to Share Your Ideas in the Workplace

By Sahra Togone
World Education Services

Many successful organizations succeed because of the ideas that their employees bring to the team. However, sharing ideas can be a complex terrain if it is not done properly. There are many instances when new employees feel their ideas are not valued or taken into consideration. Therefore, it is important to equip yourself with the right skills to effectively communicate ideas in new work environments. ACCES Employment has provided a guide on how to share ideas in the workplace.


Gathering Information and Asking Questions
Although communicating new ideas, being open-minded, and having confidence to speak up for yourself are all qualities that are welcome in the workplace, it is important to be respectful to your colleagues and familiarize yourself with existing organizational processes. As a new team member, you may not always be aware of past experiences, why things are done a certain way, and how change or new ideas are handled in an organization. It is a good idea to ask questions, gather information, and learn about the organization from your colleagues and managers to get a good sense of how you can contribute.

How to Offer New Ideas                             
Teamwork is greatly valued in workplaces. When proposing a new idea, you must take the overall implication for your team into consideration. Before sharing a new idea, be sure to convey your idea in an appropriate manner and try to understand your workplace culture. Conversational skills are important and your ability to create small talk will allow you to build workplace relationships and gather information.

If your idea is something that you had experience with in the past, you should:
  • Share a brief summary of your experience
  • Describe why you think your idea might apply to the new situation
  • Detail how your idea aligns with your team’s overall objectives
Be specific with your ideas and try to suggest practical ways of implementing them. The most important part is to express how your idea would benefit the team, organization, or specific project.

Handling Disagreements
If you disagree with a particular process or way of doing things at work, presenting an alternative idea is often a positive and effective way to demonstrate your value to the team. You should always try to be empathetic when you disagree with colleagues or managers. Remember that they feel like they are contributing in their own way, regardless of your opinion or new ideas. Try to see things from their perspective, and address any concerns or issues that they may have in a respectful way.

Disagreements are common within teams. Learning how to offer and accept criticism in a constructive way is a key step in ensuring that you and your team are successful. Ignoring these issues will build up resentment, which can result in even bigger problems.

For example:
Michael had a positive experience implementing a software program at a previous job that resulted in greater efficiency and more detailed responses to customer inquiries. He wants to share this idea with his manager and his colleagues but does not want to offend anyone since he is new to the organization. He starts by speaking with several colleagues in the IT department and the sales team that works directly with customers. Gathering information about current work processes, he also learns that because of budget cuts last year, software updates were cut from the budget.

Using this information, Michael approaches his manager to share an idea about updating the software to reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction for the company. He shares that although the software is an initial investment, it will generate a strong return on investment in terms of staff productivity (time and efficiency) and customer satisfaction.

His manager asks him to send information about the software to her directly so that she can review the product. She is not sure that the budget will allow for the investment this year, but she is happy to consider it and share it with her colleagues. Michael is later asked at a team meeting to share his experience with the software when he worked at his previous company. He is careful to emphasize the positive benefits of the software and not the negative comments or challenges that he heard from some of his colleagues. Ultimately, the new software was considered for the following year’s budget and Michael was recognized for sharing his idea.

Do you have experience sharing ideas in a new work environment? Let us know by leaving a comment below or tweet us at @WESCanada with the hashtag #WorkInCanada.
If you are interested in testing your understanding of small talk, ACCES Employment has a short quiz that can help. 

This post is based on an article originally posted on ACCES Employment.
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Sahra Togone is a Research and Policy intern for the Global Talent Bridge (GTB) team. 

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