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Talking to your manager? Communicating with your manager!
Your boss. Always on the run. Always in meetings. Always with limited time. And, always stressed. That puts a lot of pressure on you to collaborate and get counsel in the manner you need. The cliche, managing-up is a real thing. And if you don't learn how to communicate effectively with those above you, eventually you'll hit speed bumps in your career. Many of the items below are common sense, yet it makes common sense now to review them and commit to these best practices!
6 Tips on how to speak with your manager
There is a protocol for executive communication which most sales reps and managers should adhere to for maximum career success. Forget “career success”, how about representing yourself in the most professional manner and utilizing solid communication tactics to maximize your interactions!
If your manager asks for time on your calendar, or you have a regular 1:1, you definitely want to follow these rules of engagement:
1. Create an agenda. Take the time to think and write a list of subjects you want to cover. It’ll show you’ve prepared and are in control of your world. The main benefit of creating an agenda is in the organization it provides for your thoughts. This is even more crucial the higher up you go as senior managers have lots on their plate and no time to waste. Respect that. Respect your sacred time with your manager.
2. Fact check. Superiors definitely want to hear your thoughts and suggestions, but they must be backed up by real facts and not interpretations and/or anecdotes. (Speaking of which, use anecdotes carefully…something that happened in one particular meeting or occasion does not mean you need to re-write the company’s mission.)
3. Remove emotion. Your manager doesn’t care much about your feelings. Sorry. Unless the purpose of the meeting is about your performance and career track, you may not want to use “I” too much..if at all. Keep things academic.
4. Be specific with your needs and requests. If you need participation on the part of your CEO, CRO, etc., lay it out specifically for her/him and make it easy for execution to occur (enlisting the EA for support help is a good tactic, too).
5. Be part of the solution, not the problem. Don’t throw the dung over the fence on to your boss’s front door. (Besides, you need to be the one who should be constantly figuring ways to get rid of the dung.) If you’re truly stuck and need help, then make sure you come with some of your own recommendations (see #1 and 2).
6. Don’t just deliver good news; know how to deliver bad news. Your boss wants to hear it all. Regarding the good news, use plural pronouns like “we” more than singular pronouns such as “I”; in fact, don’t use “I” at all (see #3). For the bad news, be honest, take responsibility where applicable, but also make sure you have a plan.
As we all know, these tactics and rules are fine for normal bosses and ordinary situations, but what about the really sticky folks above you? What about the CEOs with whom you just can’t get any footing (despite using these tactics)? What about the CRO with whom you just don’t click? What about your sales manager who snaps at you and doesn’t ever seem to slow down enough to care what you say? What then?
Pick up your phone, dial 917-207-5183.
7 Things your manager does not want to hear.
1. Excuses. Of any kind. At any time. Tell the truth. Be accountable.
2. “I don’t know why Joe on my team is under-performing.” It’s your responsibility to identify and address Joe’s development needs. It's also your responsibility to create and execute a development plan for Joe.
3. “I’m having trouble getting meetings this week.” Don’t ever say that. One of your Numero Uno priorities is to get in front of the customer. Make it happen. Figure it out. Do it. (Yet it is very acceptable to approach your manager if you’re struggling getting meetings, but be prepared to discuss details on your approach and methods.)
4. “I’m waiting on feedback from the client.” Death. Death not in a slow, torturous manner…but quickly. (Sorry to be graphic.) Salespersons and managers should not even know how to spell any form of the word w-a-i-t. If this is a foreign concept to you, call 917-207-5183 now, we must talk before you take another breath.
5. “I drove that entire sale.” Egads….if you’re that self-centered, join the circus and become a Ring Master. There is no I in “team”. Ever. And please don't reference those funny drawings of the word “team” with the “A” formed so that an "I" sits inside.
6. “I finally got the client to respond…I’m taking him and his wife to Jean-Georges for Friday dinner.” Or, any other form of paying through the nose for an audience with a prospect whom you should be able to get for an office meeting. (Yes, I know that sentence was a run-on and grammatically poor. Don't care. Boils my blood to think about pandering in this manner.) BTW, none of us should be going to Jean-Georges with clients...we're not investment bankers.
7. "That’s a good haircut for you.” “That’s a nice dress on you.” Stop. Just stop.
Oh of course there are many others...what do you think was left off this list? Email here with suggestions and additions for publication in the next issue of Selling.2.YES.
Ciao for now. (Oh yeah, that's another one...foreign language cliches or movie quotes should probably be used only around your pals.)
* Selling.2.YES...why the name?
Everyone has their funny names they designate for companies, pets, girlfriends, etc., and certainly "Selling.2.YES" might raise some eyebrows too. The title of the newsletter is derived from one of my favorite mantras: to qualify as a true professional seller, you must have the ability to turn a "no" into a "yes". Only when you as a sales person can show that you can fight through obstacles are you able to proclaim that you are indeed, a sales professional, a designation reserved for those truly worthy. Selling.2.YES is merely a play on that concept representing that the true professional rep is someone who knows all aspects of selling in order to get to the order! Selling.2.YES. Fun, eh? Or maybe not. You're free, of course to decide, or write me. But I'm sticking with it! -MH