I often hear that one of the big obstacles to “going Baby-Friendly” is getting the boss to say yes! I’m not surprised. The truth is, few – if any of us – have had good information on how to get the boss to say YES to any proposed change in clinical practice. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible! This post wraps up a 3-part series outlining 6 fool-proof tips to get your boss to say YES! Be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2.
5. Make the pitch
You’ve taken some time to develop and write your proposal. You’ve anticipated your boss’ objections, and you think you are ready to answer them. Time to face your boss and make your pitch.
Make an appointment
Whatever you do, don’t try to “catch” the boss on the fly. A good proposal deserves more than 2 seconds’ attention, in between patients, at the nurse’s station. If you can, schedule a time when the boss is likely to be the least stressed and the most receptive. Is she more agreeable in the morning before the day goes haywire, or in the afternoon? Does she always want to dash out the door on Friday afternoon? If it’s the day before a visit from The Joint Commission, she will likely be distracted and stressed!
At the appointed time, go in and make your pitch. You could just slide your proposal across the table and start talking through it, one section at a time. Meanwhile, remember that non-verbal communication is hugely important.
Maintain eye contact
Remember, you are “selling” your idea. You’ve worked hard on your proposal, and by this point know it well enough that you don’t need a written prompt. But you can’t sell anything if you are reading the words on the paper. The paper is there as a visual aid for the boss; it is not a “script” for you.
Use your best power of persuasion
That includes reading the boss’s non-verbal behaviors. Does she appear bored? Let your speech become more enthusiastic. Is the boss asking questions? Great! That means you have her attention. Is she opening her mouth to speak, but can’t get a word in edgewise? Give her an opening. Does she have her fingers over her lips? That’s a sign that she wants to say something, but feels she’s interrupting. Ask her if she has any questions so far.
Re-state your recommendation
You started with the recommendation, a statement of the desired change. When you feel you’ve done a good job of making your case, bring it full circle and re-state your recommendation. Don’t belabor your point, and whatever you do, don’t keep talking.
Give your boss a chance to say yes, to say no, to ask questions, or to say nothing at all. I cannot overemphasize the importance of this silence. A good proposal is sure to result in some “thinking” time for the boss. Wait patiently while that happens.
Know when you are done
There’s a whole science behind how bosses react. They may say yes, but later recant. A boss may first say no, but later reconsider. Some just don’t say. In any of those cases, remember that your job was to deliver the information. But you are done. The rest is in the boss’s hands.
At this point, “thank you” is the only phrase you need.
If your boss says “no,” thank her for her time and thoughtful consideration. Certainly, if your boss gives you a green light immediately, thank her,
After thanking her, gather your belongings, and head for the door. (If there’s more to the meeting than just your proposal, move to the next agenda item.)
6. Embrace the lessons learned
Sometimes, the proposal meeting goes well! That’s a thrilling occasion that merits a good pat on the back and a dose of self-credit for a job well-done.
It’s harder to stomach when the boss says no. The first inclination may be to place blame anywhere else — on the boss, the system, The Joint Commission, the budget, or just about anything or anyone else. In truth, though, a “no” often indicates there was more “telling” than “selling.”
Any of us can fall into that trap. We might put forth a proposal to the boss even though it:
- is pushing a personal agenda that doesn’t fit with the hospital’s philosophy, mission, vision, or annual goals.
- doesn’t match the boss’s agenda.
- didn’t have merit; the cons outweighed the pros.
- wasn’t well-prepared, was presented from a narrow perspective, or didn’t access the boss’s hot buttons.
- was presented poorly, with little or no understanding of the powers of persuasion or negotiation.
- needed to be made by someone else.
Blaming someone or something else won’t help you the next time you’re trying to get your boss to say “Yes.” If your boss says “No,” do a careful analysis of what you could have done better.
I never thought of myself as a salesperson. But if you have anything to say, or any argument to make, or any proposal to present, you are indeed “selling” something. You’re selling an idea.