If you see an issue or problem at your workplace (internship, summer job, etc.) that could be improved on, you should speak up. Organizations would never progress forward if things stayed the same through the years. They have likely hired you for a reason and keeping your ideas to yourself will not help anyone and may lead you to be frustrated with your workplace.
Take a minute now to think of something you would like to change where you work. Now, remember to keep the following things in mind before you voice your opinion:
- ALWAYS supply a reasonable solution to the problem
- Provide facts that support your argument
- Never complain about coworkers when voicing your opinion
- Seek support from select co-workers prior to making your suggestions to the team
- Be flexible and open to suggestions
The Reasonable Solution
You should always plan on being part of the solution before you make a suggestion. A ‘reasonable’ solution should be one that can be accomplished with minimal impact on office finances or personnel time. If you suggest change without offering to help make it better, you have now created a problem for your office and not improved things. Here is an example of an idea you might propose and how you might offer to assist:
Your office wants to get more people to attend their planned events. They are currently using paper fliers to promote these events. You think that sending emails to interested clients or promoting the events on Twitter might be more effective. Now you offer to begin compiling an email list and sending out the emails. You have now begun to solve an issue that the office is concerned about. You have begun to make yourself an invaluable team member.
Do your best to have numbers to back your assertions. Some people only support a new idea if it is quantifiable. Using the above example, you could begin to work to expand your office’s Twitter following so more people will be reached. You can then report on the number of Twitter followers who receive all your event notices. You could also get an account with bit.ly.com or tinyurl.com so you can track all the clicks on your Twitter links.
Providing these numbers will likely impress your co-workers with your attention to detail.
Don’t Complain About Others
Be careful while making suggestions for change, that you do not throw any of your coworkers ‘under the bus.’ You will not make a professional impression if you bad-mouth someone else while you are sharing your ideas. Instead, express your appreciation for other team members’ contributions, if appropriate.
While you are still an intern or entry-level worker, you need support from others to succeed. Reach out to a supervisor or someone else you respect to share your new idea with them before you introduce it to the team. That person will likely have suggestions on ways to tweak your plan or when/how best to present your ideas. They will also be more likely to back your idea when it is presented in front of others.
Once you present your idea to the team, be open to critique and suggestions from others. Also be ready to accept the fact that others may decide not to take your suggestions. Don’t take it personally. It may not be the right time for your idea, so if you think it is important, remember to bring it up again at a later time.
By following these guidelines, you can become an effective agent of change at your organization. Don’t be afraid to make suggestions, just do your best to prepare your strongest argument ahead of time.
Lori Bielek is the Marketing and Technology Coordinator at University of Delaware’s (UD) Career Services Center where she advises students in the arts and sciences through all steps of their career development. You can connect with Lori through LinkedIn or her UD Career Services Twitter account (@UDcareers).