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Why your boss might be telling you no

March 29, 2013

My wife’s taking a class in education administration.  Her professor received Why you boss tells you noan email from a young administrator who’s boss has refused multiple times to implement her ideas.  She wants to know what she can do.  My wife’s instructor thought it’d be a good idea to pose the question to the class, my wife asked my thoughts.  Here go’s.

Understanding your bosses real job

All established organizations took some level of risk early on that paid off.  As the organization grew it implemented systems, AKA rules, that ensured it’s continued success.

As the organization grew it hired workers, as the number of workers grew it hired managers, AKA you boss, to watch over the system and enforce the rules.  The job of management is not to implement new ideas, it’s to ensure the old ones are being enforced, to make sure you follow the rules, thereby maintaing the established system.

Why your boss might be telling you no

1. It’s really her job to tell you no (that’s how the established system in maintained).

2. If she takes a risk, tells you yes, and you fail, then she takes all the heat. But if you succeed you take all the credit.  No upside for your boss.

So what should you do

1. Remember that initiative is not something that’s given, it’s taken.

2. So take the initiative to do what you want anyway.  You likely don’t work for an organization that really does not want to improve.  If your idea works you’ll be a hero and can take all the credit.

The idea with taking risk is to not risk too big all at once.  So that if you fail you fail small enough to keep you in the game.

The better question to be asking

If your boss won’t accept your ideas the question to ask yourself is not how to get her to see it your way.  Rather aks yourself; Why would I stay here?

Why would you tolerate remaining under a system that does not value your ideas.  That won’t empower you to lead.

Someone out there is willing to try your ideas. Take the initiative to go find them.



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