This was a call I received this morning and the issue was the caller felt that whatever recommendations she gave her boss, he would always see it as inferior to that of a consultant, even though the consultant’s opinion was exactly the same.
This is a very common question in-fact and does get asked quite often. It is no different from why when a stranger (eg. taxi driver or friend) tell us a piece of information, we are likely to repeat it but when family says it we are more skeptical.
I don’t want to delve into the reasons of why, but I can share what you can do to mitigate the problem.
1. Defining the problem
Subordinates, when asked to do something, rarely seek clarity and probe the boss as to what is the real issue at hand. More often than not bosses say something, but in their minds mean something else. So take time and courage to seek clarity from your boss. far from making you look stupid, he will probably appreciate it as your probing questions will probably help him clear his thinking.
2. Uncover constraints
Often times, bosses have constraints that they have to work within that may not be obvious to others. It is important to uncover these constraints and work your solution to within the constraints.
3. Generating alternatives
Every problem has many possible solutions. The best solution is always dictated by circumstance. Now when the subject matter is defined by universally acceptable principles, then there can be one right answer, e.g accounting is guided by accounting principals, engineering by laws of physics etc. But where the subject is governed by opinion, this is where it gets tricky.
My recommendation is to always push yourself to look for 3 or 4 different alternatives because it forces your mind to look at the issue from may aspects. When you see one solution, you tend to think it is the only solution, and then when you boss says .. did you think about this, you start to stammer because you didn’t and that is the moment, no matter how correct your solution is, your credibility is shot.
So generate alternatives, and when asked about different options, at least you have thought about it.
4. Be through and methodical
While you and the consultant may come up with the same answer, the consultants reputation and fees are on the line. Therefore consultants have to be very through and methodical in formulating solutions.
Rarely do employees go the distance as they don’t feel like their reputation is at stake. In fact when works is of lesser quality employees are quick to rationalize and justify the work. “… busy, if only I had more time…”
5. Exceed Expectations
The fact that the boss has asked you to do a piece of work, he probably believes that you are the best person who is most capable of producing a good result.
Think about it, if a boss seeks an incompetent person to do a piece of work and expects a good results, he can’t be a very smart boss can he?
So when he asks you to do something, you have his confidence, you need to push yourself to justify that confidence and overtime as you keep on exceeding his expectations, your credibility goes up. After a while, without even looking, he will have a mental image of how good you are.