So you actually like your job. In fact, you love what you do and are often inspired with new ideas that you think will help the company or advance a particular project. Your boss, however, feels otherwise and seems to constantly shoot down your suggestions. It makes you question yourself, your work, and whether you’re being picked on, but there might other reasons your superior isn’t welcoming your ideas with open arms.
One possibility is you aren’t understanding the company’s goal and objectives for the future and your ideas are merely missing the mark. Ask yourself whether your ideas actually help advance the company and add to its bottom line. “It’s important for not only your job but your success at the company, to understand why things are not moving forward. However, this does not mean you need to get immediately defensive,” noted Elarie Consulting’s Rachele Wright, Career Pilot and Resume Architect. “It may not actually be for bad reasons, but rather a miscommunication. It may be how you are approaching these ideas. Are you showcasing how a team could help you implement those ideas? Are you showcasing what the company would actually benefit from by moving forward with the idea? Supervisors and bosses want to see result-oriented ideas. If you can showcase that, you have a better shot at getting a yes instead of a no.”
If you can’t answer those questions on your own it may time to have a sit down with your boss to express your concerns and get clarity. “You should only ask your boss why they shut down your ideas if you’ve taken a moment to question your ideas yourself and perhaps run them past a colleague or friend who works in the same industry,” explained Valerie Streif, senior advisor with hiring/mentoring firm thementat.com. “Having a moment to discuss it with another person can help you to identify if your idea is valid and your boss is in the wrong for shutting you down. Sometimes, we get caught up and don’t think about our ideas from different angles, so having a brief discussion will give you a stronger backbone if you decide to confront your boss, and it will make you more prepared from a wider perspective than just your own.”
If you decide to go ahead with your talk with your boss, be strategic in your approach. “Ask to schedule a meeting with your boss, saying that you want to set aside some time to talk about your performance. Write down what you feel like you’ve successfully accomplished in your position, and give examples of how you worked both as a team member and independently to accomplish those things,” advised Wright. Once you’ve laid out your strengths, take the time to ask for feedback from your boss, Wright added. “Ask ‘What do you think I could do better?’ ‘How do you feel like I could improve?’ And based on those answers to those questions, look to your boss directly for instructions on how to successfully move forward with implementing those ideas and changes.”
Streif added it’s important to go into the meeting with confidence. “Approach the conversation with respect but be firm. Be prepared with a rebuttal, a response to their doubts and reasons why they don’t agree or are shutting you down, but don’t turn this into a heated debate. If you can’t make them see your point of view even with bringing up the fact that others agree with you, it might be worth dropping it and walking away.”
Now if the reason you’re ideas are being shunned turns out to be personal then there is a problem. “If it’s a personal issue that they have with you and not actually because your ideas aren’t good, it can be good to have a discussion so that they realize that even if they do not like you, they need to respect your ideas, especially if they would be a benefit to the overall company or team,” said Streif. “If they are shutting down ideas due to personal beef, this will eventually come back to bite them, so keep doing your work and coming up with great ideas despite their negativity.”
You also may want to consider taking the matter to HR, Wright said.“If you do feel that your ideas are just being shot down because of your relationship with you and your boss, it may be time to go speak with the HR department. Ask for advice on how to effectively communicate with your boss, as it may not be the first time this has happened with an employee.”