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How To Pitch Your Great Idea at Work

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 20 Dec 2014 | comments*Discuss
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Management gurus are often heard telling bosses that there's a wealth of ideas and information locked up in the heads of their workforce, the people who know the work inside out and probably have great ideas that may never see the light of day. But, in the UK at least, there's still a vestige of the 'them and us' between management and those whose jobs are at the coalface. If you are one of those workers and you have a great idea, how can you pitch that to the people that run the company?

The essence of promoting a good idea is to try to find the opportunity to pitch it to the people who need to hear it. But before you get to that position you need to examine the idea and what it really means.

Research, Develop and Protect Your Great Idea

Managers and directors are unlikely to credit a member of the workforce with being able to look at the 'big picture', that is, the strategic view. So your idea needs to be well thought out and every angle examined. Most importantly the hierarchy will want to know if your great idea will save money, increase efficiency and profit. One of the problems that you will face is that a great time-saving idea may mean that fewer people are need to do specific jobs, so you may be responsible for lower employment at your company. How are you going to feel about that?

Once you've thought this all through, you need to protect your idea. This could be talking to someone you trust at work or lodging papers with a lawyer on a certain date so that you can prove the great idea was yours, not that of the person who sold it to the company.

How Should You Pitch?

Then the way in which you should pitch your great idea needs to be tackled. In some companies you will already have the information as to how to do this; in others you will not. To a large extent this will depend on the size and nature of your company and the kind of culture at work.

In the manufacturing dominated world of the last century, the closest an ordinary member of the workforce was likely to come to offering ideas was to be able to put a note in a suggestion box. And although some companies credit the suggestion box with coming up with some great ideas, there's no real opportunity to come across with all the information to explain the idea or defend it.

Workforce Development Will Encourage Great Ideas

Companies who have invested in workforce development are likely to have a reward system for great ideas that are pitched, then implemented and have demonstrably improved profits, lowered costs, improved employment or saved jobs. At work you may now have an internal email system, which is an improvement on the suggestion box because it allows follow-up conversations to examine the great idea in detail.

Will Your Employment Be at Risk?

In some environments, probably more office-bound companies, you may be able to pitch a great idea directly to the directors or another management group. There be no information on how this should be done and the risks have to be assessed. In the film 'Jerry Maguire', Tom Cruise makes a pitch by writing up his great idea, a new strategy for his company, overnight and placing it in the internal post box of every employee. The next morning he's out of work when the pitch fails.

We're not suggesting that a failed pitch could mean people losing their jobs, but it's wise to talk it over with mentors or other managers before going for it. If you do, be polite and let your enthusiasm show, but don’t overdo it because that will put people off. Make sure the benefits of your great idea – full employment, cost savings, fewer jobs, whatever they are – are spelled out clearly and have the figures in your head, as you are likely to be grilled on them.

Whatever the method you use to pitch your great idea at work, research it, protect it and then pitch it at the right level and in the right way, to the best of your ability. Then all you can do is sit back and hope that everyone else agrees with you.

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@chell - Unfortunately, self employed people are not covered by employment legislation, and so do not have the rights of an employee. As a self-employed person you are your own boss and can decide how much to charge for your work and how much holiday to give yourself, however you are not entitled to holiday pay. Also, I'm afraid the right to complain to a tribunal about unfair dismissal isn’t available to self-employed people or independent contractors. I hope this helps.
WorkingRights - 22-Dec-14 @ 12:36 PM
My bf is self employed and has been working for his company for 6 months.Yesterday morning he was told there was no longer any work for him but wasn't given a reason.We have since managed to find out that it is because of bad reports from senior staff about him but he has done nothing wrong . Always worked haRd and kept his head down.My question is does he have any rights and r self employed people entitled to holiday pay
chell - 20-Dec-14 @ 9:57 AM
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