Getting the Green Light for Your Project

Getting the Green Light for Your Project

Your team prepared an innovative proposal for the boss. You put in long hours and worked hard to get it completed. You are excited by the idea and you think you have made a great case for moving forward. Yet, days have turned into weeks and no decision has been handed down. You know the boss has a busy schedule, but doesn’t your team deserve an answer?  What takes so long to make a decision anyway?

Some bosses are simply more efficient than others. Some make quick decisions while others are detail oriented and pore over every chart. Some bosses drag their feet because they can’t decide, or if their answer is “no,” and they realize the team will be disappointed. There are bosses who welcome innovation, and others who are slow adopters.

How can you get your boss to give you and your team the green light? The following hints may be helpful  for getting the answer you are looking for:

•Learn what you can about how she works and what she prefers. Does she only work online, or will a hard copy of the proposal be useful for her airplane reading? Does she require detailed charts and many facts, or does she want only a two or three page overview?

•Be sure you have done adequate research and that the data you use are current. Anticipate questions and try to include answers in your background materials.

•Organization is key. You need an excellent summary and a clear ask. She shouldn’t have to guess at what you are requesting, or what it will cost, or what the return on investment will be.

•If there are options besides yes and no, present them in a clear fashion showing the rationale and preference for each. For example, if she is hesitant, could you start with a pilot project and then scale up?

•Allow enough time for a thoughtful decision to be made. Plan your request so that it doesn’t become an urgent ask. Putting your boss on the spot, or emphasizing the need for a quick turnaround, rarely works in your favor. Instead, in the summary, explain important timelines for moving forward.

You aren’t going to change your boss’s behavior, but a better understanding of her preferences and the processes she uses for decision making can help you anticipate and prevent problems. With that insight and with adequate planning and preparation, you should be able to time that green light just right.

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