Sharing ideas in the Canadian workplace is a great way to build rapport, demonstrate your creativity and thinking process and show your value or potential. Managers and colleagues expect you to have a certain amount of assertiveness when it comes to sharing your ideas in the workplace. However, being too aggressive with your language or sharing “too much too soon” without knowing all of the facts may not be the best approach when you are new on the job.
Here are three tips on how best to share ideas in the workplace in an effective and collaborative way.
1. Gather Information and Ask Questions
While communicating new ideas, being open and honest and speaking up for yourself is welcome in Canadian workplaces, it is important to be respectful of your colleagues and managers and of the organizational processes that are already in place. Being the newest member of a team means that you may not be aware of past experiences, why things are done a certain way and how change comes about in the organization. Before sharing your ideas, ask questions, gather information and learn about the organization from your colleagues and managers in order to get a clear picture of how you can best contribute.
2. Share your Idea
When you have a new idea to share, don’t apologize for your opinion or over-explain the idea. If it is something based on your previous experiences, share a brief summary of that experience and why you think it might apply to the new situation. Be specific with your ideas and consider also suggesting a way of implementing them. Be sure to share how you think your idea will benefit the team, the organization or specific work areas.
3. Listen and Address Disagreements
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. However, always be empathetic to your colleagues or managers during the process; remember they too feel like they are contributing and may have their own opinions or 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 that puts those three tips into practice.
Michael has had a particular experience with implementing software at a previous job 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 because they work directly with customers. Gathering information about current work processes, he 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 improve costs and gain customer interest and trust in 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 her information about the software so that she can review the product. She is not sure whether 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 invited to a team meeting to share his experience with the software at his previous company. He is careful to emphasize the positive benefits of the software and avoid repeating the negative comments or challenges with the current process that some of his colleagues mentioned when he first asked questions. Ultimately, the new software is considered for the following year’s budget and Michael is recognized for sharing his idea.