Sticky solutions to your everyday business challenges
Question: My boss has a reputation for being a visionary. Working with him is never dull, but he comes up with new ideas every day, and there’s just no way that my team can keep up. It’s exciting and even fun to work with someone so creative, but it can also be overwhelming to deliver on everything he thinks up. What advice do you have for supporting someone who is an idea generating machine?
Answer: Every good team needs a balance of visionaries and implementors. If you find yourself overwhelmed by your boss’s creativity, you are probably more of an implementor. Start by recognizing that you both have complementary gifts. When those gifts are out of balance, however, your team can become frustrated, burned out, and disengaged. Here are some suggestions for regaining balance (and a little bit of sanity).
Recognize Not All Ideas Require Action
If you’re someone who thrives on taking action — checking off boxes as you accomplish even minor tasks each day — you may be making a false assumption that all of your boss’s ideas come with the expectation that they should be put into action. That’s a perception that should be checked.
Often, idea generators like your boss just need to share what’s on their mind and can be satisfied with acknowledgment of their ideas. Let your boss know that you’ve heard him, and that you will put new ideas in a “parking lot” like a digital file where they will not be forgotten. If he doesn’t return to an idea, chances are he’s moved on and so can you.
Find a Balance Between Ideas and Resources
If he objects, you’ll need to move onto negotiating expectations. Many idea generators like your boss may have unrealistic expectations about how long ideas take to put into place, or how new ideas can contradict a previous idea that your team is already taking action on. Ideas that would take a substantial amount of resources or contradict a current project should be negotiated. When you provide detail and layout the impact, you have the opportunity to negotiate what is worth pursuing and what can be parked.
Chances are that your boss doesn’t mean to be a dictator. Give him the safe space he needs to share his thoughts then partner with him to choose what’s best for the organization in the long term.