Getting Noticed 101: The Basics
Do you think of yourself as creative, an ideas kind of person? It’s hailed as one of the most desirable personal and professional qualities – how many job ads have you seen which ask for creative applicants, people who come up with new ideas and exciting concepts?
But, have you ever found your workplace isn’t quite ready for your ideas? At some point, you’ve probably dreamt up a way to do things better or pointed out something which could be improved. It’s easy to think that everyone else will share your enthusiasm. But, when you bring it up, why do you find it either falls flat or people are actively resistant?
There are countless examples throughout history of people not changing even when the status quo isn't working or correct. Look at the current scandal around the gender pay gap and lack of diversity in the highest paid BBC entertainers. Some people must have known about it, and others may have even tried to challenge it, but the status quo has remained. When more large organisations begin publishing their payscales, there are bound to be other worse offenders coming out of hiding.
This week, the government has begun taking steps to ensure those who take their employer to a tribunal are no longer forced to pay fees, a potential barrier to those, especially on low incomes. But that doesn’t quiet the voices of some powerful (and wealthy) employers who disagree with the decision, preferring to deter people from holding their employers to account.
If you’ve ever experienced resistance to your new ideas, or feel an injustice is being ignored, don’t give up. People will find it painful to change but if no one raises it nothing will get better. And there's going to have to be a lot of changes if crucial advances like pay parity are ever going to be achieved.
In How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention and Discovery, Kevin Ashton refers to people called ‘truth-tellers’, who are always looking at the wider picture and trying to find ways to do things better. He says: ‘They may not be popular. The truth is often awkward and unwelcome. And so are the people who tell it.’
What’s the problem, and what can you do about it?
Basically, people don’t like stuff changing and they hate it when you tell them you think they’ve been doing something wrong for ages. They’ll get really offended, they may even get cross or nasty – especially if you give them information to ‘enlighten’ them on their perspective.
So, should you throw in the towel, leave everything as it is? No, of course not! You have a number of options available to you…
1) Tell them a story. Look at recent elections, voters have supported those parties who appeal to the public’s emotional side, bringing to the fore real stories of people’s day-to-day lives and struggles. It’s not by listing out dry statistics. Capture their imagination with a story on why this is important.
2) Take your time and use your influence. Look at your problem and think about how you can gradually get people on board to support it. Are there influencers in your network who are likely to agree with your point of view? Meet up with them for a coffee to chat it through before the big meeting.
3) If all else fails, move on. Is your perspective fundamentally incompatible with where you are? Work up a plan to go elsewhere where people will appreciate your ideas, or think about whether it can be done outside work through platforms for change such as change.org.
Best of luck with getting your ideas noticed!