Guest Author - Dianne Walker
Communicating with your immediate supervisor may be nerve-racking enough. What happens when you need to communicate with top company executives? While it may seem like the communication style would be the same, itís not. Depending on the size and company protocol, how you communicate with a top company executive may require a totally different approach. Itís important to understand the nuances of talking to the higher-ups.
Donít waste their time sharing every idea you ever had. The time you have with a company executive may be rare, donít waste your time inundating them with every idea you ever had for your position or the company. Think of it as a 30-second elevator speech. Itís your time to shine. If they ask you a question, you need to focus on your answer. Make sure that you can speak knowledgably about everything going on within your department. Remember, one good conversation may lead to another, but a bad conversation will have them trying to forget your name or taking a wide path around your desk to avoid you.
Donít blast your boss. Sure you may have issues, but unless youíre specifically asked, donít try to one-up your boss to make yourself look good. You donít necessarily know how strong or loyal a relationship they may have. If youíre specifically asked to report on a situation concerning your boss, keep it fact-filled, relevant and, most of all, professional.
Donít corner them during a social gathering. Many companies have small parties to welcome new staff or celebrate birthdays. Many an executive has been cornered by overzealous office staff. You can always spot the cornered executive because, while they are valiantly smiling, their eyes are darting around looking for an escape route. Share a few pleasantries and then move on. Donít try to monopolize the executiveís time. If you do engage in a promising conversation, allow it to continue for a few moments then give them an escape route. ďItís been great talking to you about x, y, z. I know youíre enjoying the party. I will send an email later in the week and perhaps we can continue the conversation.Ē Follow up with an email later in the day, reminding them of the conversation and ask if they have time to continue.
The important thing to keep in mind is that executives are busy people. Their time is valuable, but your time is valuable too. You donít want company executives thinking you have nothing better to do then sit around and think up ideas to improve the entire company. Have one or two ideas to share when the moment is right. Make sure that part of the improvement involves your own area and not look like youíre dipping your toes in everyone elseís well.
It takes a little prep, but being ready for those unscheduled moments with the company executive can be a huge boost to your career if you handle it right.