You have a great idea – a better way to do things; a new twist on a
project; a fix for a problem. You tell your boss, who begins his (her) response with a giant ‘yabut’. Yabut we’ve tried it before, yabut it’s too expensive, yabut it’s never been done before, yabut we don’t have the time. Yabut, yabut, yabut….
Then the boss wonders why people hesitate to come to him with solutions instead of problems.
In order to best deal with the idea-killing boss, it first helps to understand him a little bit. For starters, most idea-killers have no clue of the negative impact their yabuts have on other people. In fact, as part of their internal thought process, they are continually yabutting in their own heads as they assess options prior to reaching decisions. They come up with ideas, and then try to look for flaws in those ideas. They will even silently scold themselves when they come up with a silly idea. They don’t realize, however, the negative impact that is created when they use that process aloud and with other people.
The best option for dealing with an idea-killer is to make your boss aware that he’s shooting you down. Don’t be formal or stiff about it (e.g. “Boss, you need to know that it really hurts my feelings when you dismiss my ideas”). Have some fun with it. The next time your boss shoots an idea down, try one of these light-hearted approaches:
“Fine, then – see if I ever give you another great idea!”
“I love the way you encourage us to be innovative”
“Oh, you were looking for an idea that doesn’t suck!”
“I’m going to stop coming up with great ideas if you’re going to keep shooting them down”
It might take a few times, but your boss will eventually get the message. It’s worth a try!