We’ve all been there. One day your boss asks for feedback on a program, project, or concept that your team is working on. You spend hours working on your concept: the wording, why the idea rocks, and how your team can start rocking out your new idea. You’re nervous, but you know that they will love it.
An hour passes by, then two, and then your boss says the following: “I’m sorry but we’re not going to use your idea.” You’ve been shot down and it hurts.
If you’re really emotionally invested in your job, having an idea shot down may feel really personal and you might find yourself wrestling with some self-doubt about your value to the team. Before you go down that rabbit hole of crazy, let’s walk through some of the things you should do to keep this situation in perspective.
Unless your boss truly hates you (and sometimes they do) don’t take the rejection of your idea personally. If there are several people who work on your team, it’s possible that your immediate supervisor may have opted to use a different idea.
Hey, it happens.
You might not be aware of a last minute change to the project concept so you’ve ended up presenting something that is no longer relevant. If you’re defined by the work that you do, the rejection of ideas can feel intensely personal. Keep things in perspective, walk away if you’re feeling hurt or angry – don’t lose it on your boss and colleagues. Never let them see you sweat.
Time to regroup.
Spend some time away from the office regrouping and getting into a positive headspace. Don’t let your ego get in the way of all the hard work that you’ve done previously.
If you find that you’re feeling especially demoralized, watch the movie Office Space and imagine how good it would feel to beat up one of the printers that always seems to jam. But don’t do it. You have an imagination for a reason.
Now that you’ve calmed down and are thinking rationally, ask yourself the following questions:
- Was I clear about the scope of work?
- Would what I suggested truly move our project on forward? Or, was it an ego-driven suggestion? (Yes, I went there.)
Then, ask yourself, “Am I clear about the overall goals of my team and department?” You may feel like you’re clear on the overall objectives, but things do change. It’s never a bad thing to ask your team lead, “What is the ideal outcome you would like us to arrive at via our work efforts?”
Again, you might not be aware of changes that may have been communicated from the top down – but, not to you. Your team lead will (typically) appreciate that you’re zeroed in on achieving positive outcomes with any suggestions that you may share.
Is this boss an ally?
If you suggest something to your boss, will they truly be open to any suggestions that you make? Do you have a boss who has basically checked out mentally and just goes through the motions?
They may perceive your suggestions either in a positive light (this employee has ideas that I can piggyback on) or, they may feel threatened and think that you’re angling for their job. And, you could be. Remember that the phrase “office politics” exists for a reason.
Is your boss a little…flaky? Do you find yourself wondering how on earth they got the job? Are they easily influenced or super open to team input? If they are open to suggestions, create a strategy where you share new ideas without being annoying or come across as a brown-noser.
It’s ok to Jedi-Mindtrick your boss…as long as you’re using your powers for good.
Finally, if your idea has been rejected, ask for feedback. Don’t be afraid to have an open and candid conversation with your boss. In fact, I would strongly encourage you to become comfortable asking for helpful feedback from your supervisor or boss.
Creating an open line of communication may also signal to your boss that you’re professional and invested in creating change in your job. Good luck!
Have you been knocked down at work? How did you bounce back? Tell us about your experiences in the #Adulting Facebook community.