Project Managers Don’t Listen To Anyone’s Ideas

You may have the greatest ideas on the planet, but if you can’t communicate their worth, no one will adopt them.  Not always is the problem that your ideas are the best, however, and so I’m going to describe a few reasons why your “great” ideas dont get adopted.

Why don’t they want to listen?

Now I love to have my ideas heard as much as the next fella, but not always are you the center of the universe.  Ok, so now that I’ve brought the negativity in, there is a real concern here.  Evidence shows that some of the best organizations (Google for instance) are bottom-up organizations.  Obviously management has final say in what gets done and what doesn’t, but the real issue here is whether the bottom level is EVER getting heard.  If so, perhaps your ideas aren’t quite the amazing things you think they are, but if not, then you have a bigger issue.

My ideas REALLY are that good!

The solution to this issue is a very difficult one.  I say that because there are potentially a number of things at hand.  The worst of these things is that the manager/project manager thinks that they, alone, know the best way things are done.  “I know the industry” is something that is touted widely, but I have found that all too often, it’s similar to the person who needs to tell you that they’re honest, when in reality is the most dishonest in the room.  That issue is hard to impossible to deal with unless you have an ability to go above their head, or let them fall on their face.  Sorry, no miracle cure here, but the reality is, trying to break down a brick wall requires more than fists and anger.  Larger organizations tend to have managers who are very forceful and used to getting their way whenever they want it.  The only way to fix this is to show them that you align with THEIR thought process.

On the other hand, it’s even more difficult if FEW managers care about the opinions of the subordinates.  That has moved beyond an individual level, and has gone into the realm of the organizational culture.  Culture is something that takes significant time to change, and that change generally has to come from the top (which you likely don’t have access to).  However, as an employee at the organization, there are some things you can do to help your culture shift.  It is like trying to move a large ship in the water, and it takes time to do so, in fact, more like nudges at critical times, but it is possible.  First, you have to show those in charge that you have the best interests of the organization at heart.  You need to also show them why the culture needs to change.  You don’t go in and say, “Oh, the culture is terrible, and so I think such and such.”  You don’t mention the culture at all, but rather, focus on the issues.  Talk with the manager one on one, and see how you together can work toward a mutual goal of improving communication and your idea presentation.

Again, no miracle cure, and it takes time and energy to shift these factors, but if you DO care enough, you can make a change, small at first, and hopefully getting larger as the ideals move beyond you into the shared consciousness of your company.

What kinds of problems have you had concerning getting your ideas heard?  Let’s converse in the comments!