Hi Fabulous Working Females! This week, I want to talk about a topic that has helped me grow in my career, and that is showcasing my ideas and projects. In one of our previous blog posts “There Is No Elevator to Success, You Have to Take The Stairs”, we talked about one of the ways to go above and beyond is to take up a side project at work.
Taking on a side project is a great way to showcase your knowledge, and expand your portfolio/resume. Let’s dive deeper into the politics of working on a side project.
GETTING THE IDEA:
Is there a workflow process in your current day to day role that you know isn’t working, isn’t most efficient, or know a more effective way to do the process? That’s great! Having an idea for a side project is the most important part, but having an idea is just an idea until it’s out on paper.
When you have an idea, take the time (after work) to organize your thoughts. Write down on paper:
1. What the current workflow is
2. What isn’t working
3. Your proposal for a new workflow
4. How to do it
5. Why it is more effective
From there, you are ready to start!
FOLLOWING THROUGH ON YOUR THOUGHTS:
Your idea may be a great one, and your head is definitely in the right direction-but don’t approach management until you have a clear, thoughtful proposal. Management DOESN’T WANT TO HEAR THE PROBLEM, THEY WANT THE SOLUTION.
Let me repeat this again…Management DOES. NOT. WANT TO HEAR THE PROBLEM, THEY WANT THE SOLUTION.
Setting up time with management to talk about the problem is a great step in the right direction, but going in without a game plan can come off like a complaint, or can give someone else the opportunity to take your idea and solve the problem. By creating a thought out pitch, you show your professionalism, dedication, and ownership of your great ideas and hard work.
REVISIONS, REVISIONS, REVISIONS:
Now, after you pitch your full thought process on the side project you want to take on, you can receive feedback from management to help further the success of your ideas. Utilize their feedback, set up meetings to follow up on your progress every few weeks, give yourself deadlines so it doesn’t get lost and doesn’t end up as something “you’ve been meaning to get to”. Following up with management on your initial idea shows your dedication to your work, and your passion in bettering your role. This also will allow your name to be brought up, networking opportunities with others, and grow your reputation as a leader in a positive way.
Your project won’t be perfect on the first try, but with getting feedback from a superior, you are growing your knowledge and network.
TIME TO EXECUTE THE FINAL PRODUCT:
When your project or presentation is fully complete, set up time with higher-ups in different, relevant positions to pitch your idea through and through. You can do this individually, or in a group setting. Be clear, be concise, and again, SHOW THEM THE RESULTS! When you show the benefits of your idea is when you have the best chance in making a change.
Follow up with a thank you e-mail with whoever you present to, and be sure to attach all documentation you have created! You never know where this may lead you…
Take it from me, in my first two roles I always had ideas, always worked on side projects, but never went about it in the right way. I had plans, but struggled with showcasing the results-I would jump the gun.
In my third role, a month in after I started I took all of the prior knowledge I had gained-and put together a pitch start to finish on a workflow process, why it wasn’t working, my idea for a new workflow process, and why this would be more effective. I got in front of management right away. I was used to not having anything come from these conversations, but hey, it was worth a shot.
When I did that, the Vice President ended up calling me into his office and asked me to present my idea in the weekly meeting with upper management. Shortly after that, the same Vice President called me into his office and asked me to spearhead an initiative with him to help create a new team-and how my knowledge would be of much help to his plans with the creation of this team. My confidence, risk taking, and hard work had finally paid off in a huge way.
That’s all for now, Fabulous Working Females. Taking on a side project is a lot of work, but when you believe in something-you can do anything you put your mind to. Remember, it doesn’t happen overnight, and you will have feedback, revisions, and questions thrown at you when you present your project. Be clear, be confident, be well thought out, and SHOW THE RESULTS!