Six Tips for Engaging Senior Managers

Simple strategies for engaging senior managers

You’ve probably been engaging senior managers from a young age – you just may not have realised it at the time!

Remember as a kid when there was something you really wanted? Something out of the ordinary?

Like an overnight stay at a friend’s place (the one with relaxed parents who let you stay up late and watch the largest colour TV known to mankind)? Or the school excursion to go ten-pin bowling? Maybe it was something really big – like going to a Madonna concert!

Either way, you knew that this was going to need high level support.

So you started thinking, “Who do I need to have on board to make this work?”

Is Mum the ‘easy touch’ today? What kind of day has she had? What can you help her with to get in the good books? Or is it about brushing up Dad’s ego so that he feels like he’s actually in charge at home?

Even though you may have grown up, some things still stay the same.

This includes getting buy-in from the right people to get support for a key change that you’re trying to implement.Engaging senior managers

If they are senior managers either within or outside your organisation, some clear thought needs to go into involving them.

Here are six tips for engaging senior managers in decision making processes.

  1. Build trust and rapport

Work with your ‘sponsor’ or client to earn their trust and respect. Reassure them that the process will deliver and that you have the confidence and competence to make it work. Deliver on each commitment that you make.

  1. Get on the same page

Use your understanding of communication styles (e.g. DISC or CLICK!) to ensure that you communicate with your client in a manner that makes sense to them. If they’re a ‘big picture’ person, be clear on the long-term outcomes that the process will deliver. If they’re more interested in the detail, describe the reasoning behind each of the strategies you intend to use.

  1. Clarify

Make sure that roles and responsibilities are identified and agreed, along with key performance indicators of progress and outcomes. Focus on the purpose and outcomes of the process before investing any time in developing a process.

  1. Measure

Gain agreement on the ‘return on investment’ that your client is looking for from the process. This highlights the value they’ll gain from their commitment and shows what a worthwhile resource your time and expertise is. Seek quantitative and qualitative measures of the outcomes of the process in both the short-term and the long-term. Use participant surveys, interviews, case-studies and your own networks to get this information.

  1. Find out the ‘Secrets’

Be upfront on what you need to know from your client and what they need to be willing to disclose to their staff and stakeholders. Remember the adage “nothing that’s worth keeping secret will stay so.”

  1. Understand behaviours

Be clear on what the acceptable and unacceptable behaviours of the organisation or team you’re working with. Ensure that you have permission to ‘name or call’ those behaviours when they occur. Have a strategy in place to understand why the behaviours occur – is it fear, habits or ignorance that drives them?

PS – Got other suggestions? Let me know and I’ll add them in.

PPS – Thanks to Neil Thomas for the photo from Unsplash

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Andrew Huffer

Andrew Huffer has over 25 years experience in working with organisations, businesses, managers and communities and at a state, national and international level. He designs and delivers specialist engagement processes, with a focus on facilitating open decision making processes and skill development of clients. He has delivered presentations and workshops at a number of state, national and international conferences.

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