I spotted an opportunity to make a difference. What’s next?

How will people perceive me if I speak up?

We’ve done it this way for years. My boss doesn’t like to hear new ideas, but the person above him does.

I tried suggesting an idea once but the people I work with didn’t like it.

What’s the best way to propose the idea—bring it up at the next team meeting or drop by the team lead’s desk to chat?

Will this mean more work for me?

What do I do? 

These are all thoughts that have crossed my mind at one point or another at work.

The thing surprising thing is that the people you work with may not be aware of the improvements that need to be made. To help them understand the changes you propose without overwhelming them with questions or work, you can:

  1. Explain what you are observing and why it needs attention
  2. Describe the adjustments that need to be made
  3. Discuss the anticipated results and possible impacts of your action
  4. Explain the broader context to help them understand the necessity of the change

If the change affects only you, your options are: accept it and go along with it; ignore or reject the idea entirely; work to improve what is happening (or at least make yourself more comfortable).

Depending on your approach, the impact of your actions could be magnified if timing is a factor. Learn when to speak up and when to hold back. Making personal changes can be more manageable since you may be the only person impacted. You can experiment and adjust the change without much backlash from others. Personal growth can be achieved by identifying and acting on the right patterns to change.

From a team perspective, established teams have their own culture and socially accepted behaviors. Modifying a team pattern may require more effort since more people are involved in any change you propose. To introduce change effectively, you need to:

  1. Lay the groundwork by understanding the varying points of view within the group
  2. Ensure the proposed change helps build or continue the team’s momentum
  3. Be prepared for the team to revert to the mean, or the average, which helps maintain consistency and smooth out extreme factors or people

When presenting an extreme proposal, understand that it may take time for the team to adjust, and the final implementation may be a toned-down version of your initial idea. It’s essential to be aware of the team’s current patterns, behaviors, and culture, as you are disrupting their way of seeing the world.

Before presenting your proposal, anticipate the impact that your proposed changes will cause. This will help you better understand potential reactions and outcomes, allowing you to prepare and present your idea more effectively.

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