These days all bosses have limited time. Every contact you make with your boss uses some of this time. It is surprising how many people use up their boss’s time (and some of their own credibility) over relatively trivial matters. So it is important to prepare ahead and call upon your boss’s time sparingly. Use your formal meeting times with them for dealing only with important issues.
Make a list of small items that can be dealt with informally
One great method for dealing with minor matters is to make a written or mental note of the various small items for which you need a decision that can be made quickly. Most items can be raised informally when you have unexpected time together at the water cooler, in the corridor, in a car or aircraft together on the way to a meeting, etc.
This approach worked really well for me. At one stage I worked as public affairs manager for a government-funded hydro-electric authority. The government decision makers were based in the national capital about 60-90 minutes’ drive away. One day, my boss, who was the head of the organization, needed me to accompany him for meetings in in the capital. During the drive, I was able to raise all the smallish matters I needed to discuss with him at the time. It was great use of time. On the return trip, we discussed many of the implications of the matters we had discussed with the government. My boss was normally so busy, he didn’t have much time to do this, but our time in the car enabled us to do this. So, despite the big chunk of time taken up by the two journeys, I was able to cover much of my agenda with the boss, and so it was a very successful day.
Of course you can always email your boss about more pressing matters. The emails would be channelled through the boss’s executive assistant, so ensure you have a good relationship with them in order to get priority access when it counts.
Look for astute ways you can get more access to management
Some executives also adeptly make themselves available to their boss for all sorts of purposes at different times, just so they can get direct dialogue with them. For instance, the executive chairman of a company where I used to work lived in another city and came to town only once a month to attend board meetings. One of our managers always volunteered to pick up the chairman from the airport and drive him back, day or night – it was no trouble at all. During the 45-minute drive each way he had the chief’s undivided attention and discussed many issues and earned many more decisions than he could from his normal course of contact with the chief. Sure enough, he was promoted within a few months!
Photo by Joe Vittorio.