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Your exposure to higher level managers is usually limited, so you need to make a good impression when you have the opportunity. After all, the managers above your boss can affect your pay, promotions, assignments, and even your job security. Whether they are in business, government, or the non-profit sector, all executives appreciate certain things. Here are a few ways to make the most of your encounters with the higher-ups.
1. Consider the big picture.
The higher you go in an organization, the wider the view. Executives really appreciate employees who think about issues beyond their own narrow job description. If you seem to understand and care about larger organizational goals, you will make a positive impression.
2. Collaborate across functions.
Part of seeing the bigger picture is recognizing how your job function connects to others. All too often employees and lower-level managers get stuck in their “silos” and focus only on their own objectives. But high-level managers want different functions to work together to achieve organizational goals.
3. Be smart about money.
All high-level managers are concerned about money in one way or another, whether it’s increasing sales, reducing costs, managing budgets, or insuring overall profitability. If you show concern for finances, top managers will know that you appreciate the issues that they must deal with on a regular basis.
4. Ask intelligent questions.
Executives appreciate employees who take an interest in the business, and they usually love to share their knowledge or perspective. When you have a chance to interact with managers above your boss, try to have a few well-thought-out questions ready.
5. Propose solutions.
Managers constantly hear about problems, so they really appreciate people who focus on solving them. Even if an executive doesn’t agree with your ideas, the fact that you think about solutions will be viewed positively.
6. Share interesting information.
Even though executives have a broader view, they know little about the everyday details of most functions. And they are usually quite interested in hearing more about what’s going on. Any new information about customers, employees, finances, or projects will usually be greeted with interest.
7. Be succinct.
Executives have limited time, so don’t expect them to sit through lengthy descriptions of projects or problems. Be prepared to convey your information quickly and concisely. If they want to know more, they will ask.
8. Disagree respectfully.
Most high-level managers have little respect for wimps. On the other hand, they expect people to respect their position and their authority. So presenting a different view will often be viewed positively, as long as you are non-confrontational and respectful.
9. Make effective presentations.
Whenever you present information to an executive, you have a chance to make a positive impression. Many people make bad presentations, so good ones really stand out. If you are unsure of your presentation skills, read up on the topic or study people who do it well.