How to Communicate to Be Heard…By The Boss

I was so excited to work for a senior leader in my division –  yippee!  But soon I was frustrated with my lack of access to the very leader I worked for.  I could rarely get the time I needed on their calendar.  It was soooo frustrating!  I would work with his secretary to find and book the time, but it felt like I always got bumped  by someone more important or something urgent.  And if I did get my time, it was quickly shortened to  10-15 minutes.  I was concerned about how I would keep my projects on time and consistent with his expectation.

I attended a workshop on communication style differences and being the ‘good employee’ that I was, I shared what I learned with my boss when I returned.  “That’s exactly our problem” my boss proclaimed at the end of my explanation. Uh, we had a problem?  “You always want to tell me EVERYTHING, and I don’t need all the details.  I know you can do the work – I hired you and I trust you.  So do the work, and come to me with your recommendation.  If I need the detail, I’ll ask, and I know you’ll have it.  I have been shortening my time with you to make you get to the point!”  Wow, that was eye opening for me.  So we made a pact.  I adjusted my communication style to how he preferred to receive the information and he would give me the time I needed on the calendar.   But working this way, I didn’t need as much time.  If there was a topic that I did need more time for, I would ask for more time – but that would be the exception not the rule. Moving forward, I was much more productive and my boss – much happier with my work.  Win/win!

There are lots of ways communication styles differ. If you want to increase your probabilities of success, adjust for your audience.  Don’t make them adjust for you.