The conservative attitudes in construction put trust in the old ways, often to the detriment of adopting new ideas and new technology. Construction’s slim margins also mean that any changes to the status quo must be well-justified. Whether your idea is to adopt new tools, invest in new equipment, or buy new digital technology, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Here’s a guide to getting your great idea implemented.
Nurture Your Reputation
You could partner with someone else to get your idea approved. You provide the details, and they make the case.
Right at the outset you must confront your standing in the organization, and to at least some degree, your reputation. If you have a reputation of always challenging the status quo and questioning authority, you’ll generally have a tougher time getting your ideas heard and considered seriously.
The same holds true if you have a reputation of marginal performance, or you are known as one who just looks out for yourself. There’s also a fine balance you must strike between giving in and standing your ground. It’s not about winning battles and being right but rather about a strategic focus on being successful. When you have the reputation of someone who is helpful, friendly, and willing to please, you open doors to opportunity.
Don’t despair, though, if your reputation stands in your way. You could partner with someone else to get your idea approved. You provide the details, and they make the case.
Develop A Convincing Demeanor
The more people know you as a person, the more likely they will accept what you offer. When you connect with people you and are genuine and authentic, others will trust you more. And trust is a valuable commodity when selling people on the idea of new tech, new ways of doing things, or new tools. You are often asking people to change entrenched processes and to abandon familiar ways. They’re fearful that if things don’t work out they’re either facing a catastrophe or a failure. So before you can sell them on the wisdom of new technology, you’ll have to have the power of persuasion on your side.
Make Your Suggestion Relevant to Them
You have to take stock of the boss you are trying to convince of something. Bosses who “play it safe” are harder to convince of new ideas, and just about everybody will ignore science and logic that run counter to what they believe. So if your boss believes the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” then you’re up for a challenge if you want to convince them to fix something that isn’t broken.
It’s really important that you know what motivates your boss, how they view their work role, and what they consider as important in life. You should also understand the work pressures and problems your boss faces, as well as the organizational barriers to adopting new technology or new ways of doing things.
For example, attitudes about change in small companies often reflect the owner’s attitudes about change. Your boss has to consider that factor when deciding about new technology. When you account for that in your justification, you make your boss’s decision easier.
Your suggestion is more relevant when it is about more than just you. Show how the new tech will benefit your boss and the organization. But don’t stop there. If it also benefits suppliers and subs and others who have a stake in your projects, then show that as well.
Make An Objective Case
The key is to be honest and straightforward. People can accept negatives more easily when they are not surprised.
There is a long history of new things that didn’t stand the test of time. That means there are a lot of people in construction who are suspicious about new ways of doing things, new technology, and new tools. You’ll have to show reasons for adoption while acknowledging the existing or potential downsides. Nothing is perfect. If you provide justification that ignores the negatives, you’ll lose credibility right at the start.
There are several ways to handle this. One way is to point out the detractors on each point. Another is to prepare a pro and con list. The key is to be honest and straightforward. People can accept negatives more easily when they are not surprised. That allows them to consider ways to mitigate the risks. It also shows you’ve done your homework and have offered an objective proposal.
Offer Multiple Paths to Adoption
Because construction is risk averse you should consider all the ways your company could implement your idea that would reduce the risks. One idea is to implement it in stages. That way, the risk is lower, while you have a chance to test the idea in a real-life scenario. No doubt you’ll also find ways to improve the outcomes, and you can incorporate those on the larger roll-out.
Another idea is changing the schedule so there’s a check point for assessing the success of the idea. You might also add quality inspections and implement interim budget reviews to prevent overspending before you have complete justification.
On a final note, and before you ask for approval, you should understand where you’ll face resistance and how you will turn that into acceptance. Your boss’s approval is just the beginning.
Anyone affected by the new ways of doing things, or the new tech, or the new tools and equipment will have feelings about it. Getting feedback ahead of time can help you enlist their support. That also shows your boss that you’ve really considered the big picture and have given the idea the greatest chance of succeeding.