When you think of working with upper management or executives in your company, does it make you feel slightly nervous or make your heart start to beat fast because they hold so much power over your career? When you get into the work world, there will be times when you have to interact with executives on projects. So, make the most of the opportunities to impress your company’s management with these tips.
Be respectful of executives and their time.
When it’s time for you to meet with the vice president of marketing or the director of operations, be sure you are prepared for the meeting. People who work in upper level positions have a lot to focus on and a lot of meetings to attend. So, don’t waste their time. If the leader requests the meeting, ask in advance about what you need to bring. Be sure to research your topic of discussion, identify key talking points, and prepare a PowerPoint, Excel spreadsheet, graph, or document for the meeting as needed. Prepare questions you need answers to. Make it a point to be over prepared and have more knowledge about the meeting than you plan to use. And, always thank them for their time at the beginning and end of each meeting.
Reserve time on their schedule.
As mentioned above, managers and executives are busy. Be sure to reserve the appropriate amount of time on their calendar for your meeting with them. You may need to coordinate with an administrative assistant. If so, be sure to go through the right channels to book the correct time and space needed to meet. You can’t just walk into an executive’s office whenever you want to meet. To get their full attention and ensure uninterrupted time, be sure they receive and accept a meeting request. You may also want to follow-up with their assistant on the day of the meeting to make sure they are on schedule. Be flexible with your time when dealing with executives because something might happen prior to your meeting that requires you to reschedule with them for a later time.
Know how to address them.
Do you address executives formally as Mr., Mrs., or Miss, or do you call them by their first name? This is something that may differ across the board depending on your company’s culture. At times, you might have an executive who is really personable and likes to joke around with everyone. But, if you address them informally, it could be offensive to them. You might have a Generation X manager who is more laid back and wouldn’t ever dream of anyone addressing them with a formal title. To be on the safe side, always address executives formally on the first meeting. From there, they can let you know a little more about their personality and specifically how to approach them in the future. After your meeting with them, if you’re still not sure how to address them, follow the lead of those around you, and when in doubt, be more formal.
Always be honest and act with integrity.
When you’re in a meeting with upper management or executives, always be honest about what you know and don’t know. If, for example, someone unexpectedly asks you to report on the specifics of a project or how much something will cost and you don’t know the answer, don’t try to make something up to look good. Be up front and honest and let them know you don’t have the answer for them, but that you will research it and get back to them quickly. In most cases, they will respect you for your candor. Either way, it’s better to be honest than to fudge the truth and get found out later.
Know your next plan of action when you leave the meeting.
Before the meeting is over, make sure you are aware of the next steps you need to take to complete a project. Know your key action items and any upcoming deadlines. If you are not clear about something, ask for clarification before the meeting is over. If you have any questions, be sure to ask. Sometimes you might be fearful of asking an executive a question because you’re afraid of what they will think of you. But, by speaking up and asking thoughtful questions, you’re letting them know you want to do a good job.
It’s important to realize that although those in upper management and executive positions hold some significant power within the company, they are still people too. There’s no reason to get worried about interacting with them. If you do get the opportunity, it is a sign that your employer trusts you and respects your work, and it’s an opportunity to learn from the very best in your organization.