Communicating with upper management can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible. In this article, I’ll outline some tried and true strategies for effectively communicating with top executives so they know what you’re doing and how they can help.
Be aware of communication channels
Be aware of communication channels. There are many different communication channels, and they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. The most common are email, phone, and face-to-face.
Determine the most effective way to communicate in each situation. In some cases it’s best to send an email; in others you might want to sit down with your manager over coffee or lunch; still in others it would be best to pick up the phone immediately when you see something needs attention right away (in this case a text message may be better than a call).
Have a clear idea of your goal before you start communicating
Before you start communicating with upper management, it’s important to have a clear idea of what your goal is.
Once you know your objective and the problem you are trying to solve, it will be easier for others to understand what you want and how they can help.
If you don’t know where you want to go, how will anyone else?
Some people might say that having a goal can limit their creativity or force them into a certain way of thinking. I disagree with this mindset because it assumes that we cannot think outside the box and create new solutions by setting artificial boundaries on ourselves. We should always strive for greatness but never forget that hard work mixed with realistic expectations pays off in the end!
For example: if one of my goals was weight loss, I would set small steps towards achieving those goals such as eating smaller portions at meals or increasing my daily exercise routine (e.g., running three times per week). If another person had an entirely different goal than mine (e.g., building muscle), then their approach would likely differ from mine in terms of timing/frequency/intensity etc…
Craft your message carefully
- Be clear, concise and use plain language.
- Use a clear structure (e.g., the 5 Ws).
- Use simple language. Avoid jargon and acronyms where possible.
- Use examples to explain your message, as they are often more memorable than facts and statistics alone (i.e., “When we do X, it costs us Y in terms of time/money/effort).”
- If you have data or other research findings that support your point of view, present them visually through charts or graphs instead of simply listing them out in paragraph form; this will make it easier for your audience to grasp all the pertinent information without having to stop reading every few lines in order to take notes on specific points as they go along!
Communicate the right amount
It’s important to keep in mind that your manager’s time is valuable, and so should be yours. If you’re communicating “the right amount,” your communication will be efficient and effective.
When speaking with upper management, make sure not to overload them with information. It’s tempting for junior employees—especially ones who are new or first-time managers—to give too much detail about every aspect of a project or task at hand.
But just because they can ask questions doesn’t mean they want the full explanation right away. In fact, most people don’t like having their time wasted by unnecessary information; it makes them feel less confident in their ability to understand what is going on around them, which can lead to anxiety over whether they should ask questions or pretend everything makes sense when it doesn’t (and try not being too worried about this!). So start by thinking about how much detail you think would be helpful for your manager given what stage of the project/task is currently underway:
- Is it a good idea for me to provide more information than necessary up front?
- Will I get more questions from my boss if we have an open dialogue about each step along the way?
Use face-to-face, but be aware of convenience and other factors
In today’s fast-paced, digital world, physical communication is becoming a lost art. However, face-to-face communications are still the most effective form of communication for building trust and rapport with your boss. When you’re face to face with your manager, you can see their body language to understand how they’re responding to what you’re saying. You can also sense if they take your words seriously or dismiss them quickly—which will help you adjust your approach accordingly.
Furthermore, when it comes time for sensitive topics like performance appraisals or difficult conversations about work expectations (or a lack thereof), having a conversation in person is going to make all the difference in how well it goes over.
The key to effectively communicating with upper management is to offer solutions as well as information. When you’re in a meeting, be sure to identify any problems and offer solutions for them. We often think that the only role of a meeting is to provide information, but it can also be used as an opportunity to solve problems together.
If you have no idea what the problem might be or how to fix it, don’t hesitate to ask for help! Your manager may be able to offer their own solution or at least point out some options for where to start looking for a solution. Asking questions does not make you look dumb—it makes you look intelligent because it shows that you are willing and eager for more knowledge about this topic (and likely other topics too).
It’s also worth noting that offering solutions doesn’t mean just coming up with something on your own; sometimes asking questions will lead everyone involved down the path toward figuring out what needs done next!
- Be sure that you have the right tools to communicate effectively.
- Be aware of your audience.
- Have a clear goal before you start communicating.
- Craft your message carefully.
- Communicate the right amount, and use face-to-face communication whenever possible, but be aware of convenience and other factors like time zones or whether the person(s) are in an open office where it might be distracting to others if they’re talking with someone on their phone or video call for long periods at once (or even just talking loudly).
We hope this article has given you some ideas for how to improve your communications with and support for upper management. As we’ve seen, there are a number of things you can do to ensure both sides understand each other and work together more effectively. But at the end of the day, remember that it all comes down to good communication: being clear about what you want from someone else and being receptive when they do give it to