If you’re terrified by the prospect of going over your boss’s head to pursue an idea after she’s rejected it, consider the following steps.
First, have an in-depth conversation with your boss to make sure that you’re not misreading the circumstances of getting rejected. Your boss may well have a good reason for her decision.
Ask your boss what’s lacking in your proposals.
- Is your idea solid enough, but lacking the right support products or services to go with it? Is it feasible to implement? Will it divert valuable attention away from other initiatives?
- Does your idea actually enhance the customer’s experience? Have you explained how your idea translates to the bottom line?
- Do you lack credibility? Have you previously blown an assignment? Do you need to rebuild leadership’s trust in you before pitching your idea again?
- Have you prototyped your idea? Have you tested your idea on others? Do you have data confirming your idea’s feasibility? Are you disclosing all underlying issues and potential challenges that will have to be attended?
Address the above concerns, rework your idea, strengthen your proposal, and pitch it to your boss again. Consider meeting with your peers and your managers’ peers to build some grassroots support (management consulting firm McKinsey calls this “pre-wiring”) for your idea.
If your boss rejects your idea again, handle your boss’s negative response by reiterating that you respect her judgment, but would like a go-ahead to take the idea further. Your boss may surprise you with a green light.
Think twice before stepping outside the chain of command and talking to your boss’s boss about something on your mind.