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How Can I Communicate With Senior Managers?

Most IT workers don’t have to communicate with senior management. It’s not part of their role, and there are usually other managers who are required to  communicate with senior managers and the other employees in the team.

Sometimes, though, there might come a time where you, as an IT professional will need to communicate with senior managers at your job.

This could be for a variety of reasons.

You might be asked to present something to a senior manager (or even more daunting – several senior managers!). You might need to add information to an email to get sent to someone at a senior level. Or it could be any number of other parts of your job.

For the purposes of this article, I refer to senior management as someone who is involved in making key decisions in your organization, and is at least two levels above you on the organizational chart.

So, your boss’s boss, at the very least. While they may not have a senior or executive title, they do have a different area of responsibility and it can seem daunting to need to communicate with senior managers. There are a few things you can do to make it easier.

Don’t Panic

Senior managers and executives get created in the prime of their career from thin air and are automatically awesome at everything they do.

I’m kidding, by the way.

Senior managers are senior because they have the experience doing roles at more junior levels or other areas of a business.

They have been in your situation before.

They have given presentations and provided information to other executives before they got to their position.

So, they know what it’s like to be where you are. For this reason, you shouldn’t panic. Don’t think too much about what could go wrong when you speak to others. Try to relax. Focus on what you’re trying to say or communicate to senior managers, and just say it.

Don’t Go Into Too Much Detail

It’s very tempting for us IT professionals to explain the details of what is asked of us to senior managers. We think it’s relevant, it’s important, and it matters to what’s being discussed. Leaving it out would be crazy!

Before we go into too much detail, we should try to look at it from their side. They most likely don’t want the details.

Their time is precious and they don’t need to know the details. They have an interest in different areas of the business and are not usually concerned with technical areas.

If you need to give an update to a senior manager on a critical system outage, they would likely be interested in things such as the expected resolution time, who’s looking at the issue at the moment, and who to contact for more information.

They probably don’t need to know about server logs and possible causes. At a later date, they might, if some kind of review is done. But this is just one example. The point here is that we need to realise which information is important and which isn’t.

Know What You’re Talking About

Depending on the manager you’re talking to, they can be pretty picky.

Actually, senior managers often have other managers that they report to and are accountable to. This means that anything you tell them is likely to be passed on to their manager.

This is important to know, because if the wrong information is communicated or if it’s uncertain, it can cause problems.

Make sure you know what you’re talking about when you need to communicate with senior managers.

If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to say so. It’s better to be unsure about something, and say so, than to pick a response or a solution which may be incorrect.

They will make decisions or take actions based on what you tell them, so as long as it’s accurate, it will be OK. Be sure to tell them your concerns if it isn’t accurate.

For example, if we use the same scenario as above where there is an outage – an external team tells you the hardware will arrive and be installed in four hours, but you’re not sure it can be done that quickly. Management then ask you for an update. It’s a good idea to mention the four hour resolution, but also mention your concerns that it may not be accurate, and why. This will allow the managers to take necessary action.

Learning how to communicate with senior managers may seem like a daunting experience, but it doesn’t need to be. Once you’re able to focus and ensure you’re communicating the correct information, it will be a lot easier!