Is there a Right Time to Share Your Ideas at Work?


Sharing ideas in the Canadian workplace is a great way to build rapport, demonstrate your creativity and thinking process, and also, to demonstrate your value or potential.  Managers and colleagues expect a certain amount of assertiveness when it comes to sharing ideas in the workplace.  However, being too aggressive with your language or sharing “too much too soon” without knowing all of the facts can be a challenge when you are just starting off in a new working environment.  Here are a few tips for how to share ideas in the workplace in an effective and collaborative way.   

Gathering information and asking questions 

While communicating new ideas, openness and confidence to speak up for yourself is welcome in Canadian workplaces, it is important that you start off by being respectful of your colleagues and managers and organizational processes that are already in place.  Being the newest member of the team, you may not always be aware of past experiences, why things are done a certain way, and how change or new ideas get taken up in the organization.  It is a really good idea to ask questions, gather information and learn about the organization from your colleagues and managers in order to get the full picture of how you can contribute. 

How to offer new ideas 

When you have a new idea to share, try not to apologize for your opinion or over-explain.  If it is a new idea that you have had experience with, share a brief summary of your experience and why you think it might apply to the new situation.  Be specific with your ideas and you might also suggest a way of implementing them.  Be sure to share about how you think your idea will benefit the team, the organization or specific work areas. 

Handling disagreement 

If you disagree with a particular process or “way of doing things” at work, presenting an alternate 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 with a genuine response. 

Here’s an example! 

Michael has had a particular experience with implementing software at work that helped with greater efficiency and more detailed responses to customer inquiries.  He wants to share this idea with his manager and his colleagues but doesn’t want to offend anyone since he is new to the organization.  He starts by speaking with several colleagues that work in the IT department and also the Sales team that works directly with customers.  Gathering information about current work processes, he also learned 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 improve costs and gain customer interest and trust in the company.  He shares that although the software is an initial investment, it will definitely 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 to share his experience with the software at a previous company at a team meeting.  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 while he was asking questions about work processes.  Ultimately, the new software was considered for the following year’s budget and Michael was recognized for sharing his idea.

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