Career advice: Why are my suggestions ignored?

Premier 100 IT Leader Jacqueline Lucas also answers questions on working with a negative person and the factors that influence a career

Jacqueline Lucas of Baptist Healthcare System Ask a Premier 100 IT Leader Jacqueline M. Lucas Title: Vice president and CIOCompany: Baptist Healthcare System

Lucas is this month's Premier 100 IT Leader, answering questions about having your suggestions taken seriously, working with a negative person and the relative importance of education, experience and relationships in a career. If you have a question you'd like to pose to one of our Premier 100 IT Leaders, send it to askaleader@computerworld.com.

I'm always making suggestions, almost all of which are ignored by my boss. I've been here long enough that we have started implementing some of the things I suggested years ago, but only because everyone else now does things that way. I feel frustrated. I don't want to be a manager myself, but boy, would I like to be the guy who makes decisions! What I'm wondering about right now, though, is whether I could learn to be more influential or if I just need a new job and a new boss. You should consider how you are presenting your suggestions. Are you tossing them out casually with little preparation? Are you offering to help champion, manage or implement suggestions or just throwing them out, hoping the supervisor will take them on and make them happen?

My recommendation is to vet each suggestion with colleagues before presenting them, to assess their validity. Then prepare a brief document outlining the suggestion and how it could be accomplished and present it to the boss with an offer to participate in the implementation. This sends the message that you are serious and have done your homework, and it should elicit a response.

You have to understand that there are circumstances that can prevent a manager from implementing a recommendation -- applicability, risk aversion, monetary restraints, competing priorities, etc.

And, of course, the decision to leave a position is a major one and should be made based on many factors, including career path, job market, location and family needs.

I often have to work with a very negative person. I deflect the complaints as best I can, but it actually wears me out to be with him. What can I do? One approach would be to take the co-worker aside and, in a caring manner, say that it is obvious he is unhappy and you would like to know how you could help to make things better. This will not only open up a dialogue, but also let your co-worker know that his attitude is noticeable. Sometimes people don't even realize how they are perceived. However, you must be ready to listen to the person and offer some constructive solutions and assistance.

What has been most helpful to you in your career: education, experience or people? Can I chose all of the above? All three areas have played a major role in my career at different times, with education dominating early in my career and experience and relationships with people more important most recently.

Read more about it careers in Computerworld's IT Careers Topic Center.

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