How to Get Your Boss to Change

It can be a daunting task to tell your employer that you’d like to implement a change, particularly if that change directly affects him/her.  The truth is, what your boss says, goes, despite the fact that it may not be the most effective, efficient, or easiest way to deliver on a commitment.  

The beauty is that, as an administrative professional, effective and efficient are right up your alley; it’s the “easy” part that’s challenging.

By National Media Museum from UK [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons This also happens to be how many of us feel when we're trying to implement a change (the tamer) or when we are the ones that have to do the changing (the lions).

By National Media Museum from UK [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons

This also happens to be how many of us feel when we're trying to implement a change (the tamer) or when we are the ones that have to do the changing (the lions).

Here are three simple tips to help you communicate a change (to anyone) so that its reception is a bit warmer.

Communicate the big picture.
The expression says, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” but that is entirely false.  Old dogs may simply be too stubborn (or too scared) to learn a new trick, but it is not at all impossible.  Start by communicating the end goal.  For example, let’s say your boss is still using a paper planner and you’d like to implement a cloud-based system that would update in real time.  Begin the conversation by expressing how important it is for you to communicate any changes that happen in his/her schedule as soon as they occur in order to appropriately guide him/her if there are any conflicts.  Additionally, the use of a cloud-based system would allow you to set up automatic reminders which would further enhance your ability to ensure he/she is where he/she needs to be on time.

Anticipate obstacles.
It’s easier to sell something when you know where your customer’s pain points lie and the objections they’ll have (why they don’t want to proverbially buy what you’re selling).  By anticipating the push back, you’re already one step ahead.  Sticking with the paper planner example, let’s consider the following objections:

  • I don’t want to learn a new system.
  • I like doing it the old way.

Virtually all smartphones have the capability to sync with cloud-based planning/calendar applications.  Assuming your employer already has a smart phone, there will be little to do on that end.  Be proactive and utilize some of the appointments your boss already has scheduled, and set them up in your cloud-based planner with a reminder (just as you would if you were already using the new system).  You may then materialize an example to him/her and show how simple it is to access the calendar on a smartphone.  Show them a change: a new person added or removed from the meeting list, a time change, a location change.  With regard to doing things “the old way,” hopefully your mini product demonstration convinces your boss that the “new” way is better.  If not, try suggesting doing both for two weeks and reevaluate their opinion after the experiment.

Reinforce the team mentality.
As an administrative professional, your goal is to support first and foremost.  Restate the big picture, reinforce that you’re on their side, and that your end-goal is the same: to be successful.  It’s important to know when to back down, however; it is your duty to ensure their professional lives run smoothly, and if a change is too big a hurdle to smooth over, it’s best to avoid it.

Subscribe