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Submitted by wendii on


Hi All

I have been invited next week to meet the managing director of the business I work in (probably a VP equivilent). It's a round table session with 10 people picked at random.

I'm quite scared of embarrassing myself, but I also want to give him a positive impression. I'm thinking honest, direct but tactful . He's quite new and has walked into a round of redundancies and changes in the business model with our major customer so he probably doesn't want any more grief! Any advice you can give would be great!



ctomasi's picture


Your approach of honest, direct, and tactful is your best approach. Think about what you want to say and how you want to say it before you get to that meeting. You may need to make some tweaks depending on the DISC model. Make your observations and try to identify the traits to better refine your delivery.

If there isn't enough time for all the items, ask to meet privately one-on-one with the managing director.


dbeene's picture

Hi Wendii,

You said this is a round table session with a random selection of people. Apparently, you have the impression that he's getting familiar with the people and the business -- and is looking for ways to improve. Is that the expressed purpose? Is there an expressed purpose for these?

Right now, Mark's WWW/TALA process is coming to mind. If I were in your shoes, I'd have a couple ideas in your mind that are working well . . . and just one or maybe two ideas of things that might deserve a closer look. I'm biased toward just one idea.

Depending on how the session goes and what the expressed purpose is, you could use some of that . . . or none of it.

By the way, in my opinion, you can probably make your best impression by a good handshake, looking at the various people when they speak, take a listening posture. When you speak, do so with confidence, being sensitive to the DISC profiles. While the things you say might be important, how you say them and how you conduct yourself may leave a longer lasting impression. (I'm assuming that this is mostly a meet-and-greet type of a meeting -- with a bit of "how are things going here".)

Looking forward to reading other comments....

regas14's picture
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Right now, Mark's WWW/TALA process is coming to mind. If I were in your shoes, I'd have a couple ideas in your mind that are working well . . . and just one or maybe two ideas of things that might deserve a closer look. I'm biased toward just one idea.

My initial reaction is that it's great this MD is doing this to get to know the organization a lot can be accomplished by getting the view from the trenches. After further reflection and reading dbeene's post, I'd be cautious about the "TALA" items you bring to the table. It's idealistic to assume that this person is coming into this meeting with an open mind, looking for these kinds of issues. Until you know this person better and unless your position puts you on equal footing with this individual I question what can be gained by bringing up negatives in the first meeting.

I would go into the meeting with a list of strengths and accomplishments for my team and how those are helping the firm capitalize on opportunities. I just don't see what you have to gain from airing issues in this forum.

dbeene's picture

I agree with Regas . . . caution is warranted here. If you *know* that the expressed purpose of this session is to look for TALA-type of items, then you should be prepared with one (perhaps just one). For example, if you've been told to come with an idea or two, then certainly do so. If you don't know what the purpose is, go with the flow.

With no clear purpose, I'd consider this to be a "let's meet the executive" type of a session. Remember -- not saying any TALA items is definitely an option.

An alternative angle that is coming to mind right now -- if his/her disposition seems open to it, maybe it's a good opportunity to ask a question or two about what his/her vision of the future is, how the company fits in the industry, that sort of thing. Don't talk just to let them hear you talk. But demonstrate an interest in the overall business and in what his/her goals are. It might give you some insight on how you can help contribute and on his personality/style.

AManagerTool's picture

This sounds like what my company does with their executives. You get to eat lunch with the guy and ask him questions while an HR relationship manager writes furiously in the background. Be careful what you say. I see most people asking things like, "How 'bout those Yankees?" When someone comes in with something substantive, it seems out of place and the HR guy starts writing harder and the exec starts his well rehearsed speach.

I get the feeling that a communications metric was put on these guys performance objectives and that seems to be why they are there. I also think that the exec feels like they are surrounded by a pack of wild subordinates and anything you say that is pointed feels like teeth on their throat.

If you want real answers or to make a point, send them an e-mail. Just make sure that the e-mail is worded in a way that won't seem like an attack. It has as much chance of making it through the adminisphere as your "in person" question.

Peter.westley's picture
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Personally I would use the opportunity to begin a relationship with this guy. Sure, go in with pre-thought about how you might answer WWW/TALA questions but most importantly, BE PRESENT. And by that I mean don't be [i]staying inside your head[/i] during the event thinking and worrying about how you might come across or what you might say. Be fully attentive to what he's saying and what others are saying. That way any response or comment you make will more likely be relevant and appropriate.

Be generous to the MD about his reasons for having the meeting. Assume the best intentions, take it at face value.
And again, use it as an opportunity to possibly open up an on-going relationship. That will be far more valuable to him and to you than any content you might contribute on the day.

Good luck!

wendii's picture
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The invite has arrived and it actually says, 'You will hear a business update, as well as ask me any questions about business concerns that you may currently have in a 'safe' environment. I get to hear your views, opinions, advice on how we can improve our business as well as spend more time with the people at the front line of our business'.

I'm definately not on an equal footing - he's about 4 layers above little old me!

WWW/TALA items are easy - I could do a 100 in five minutes - guess I need to think about which are most important/will have the most impact.

Peter - being present is great advice. I'm quite inclined to be thinking so much that I'm not even there!

Thanks for all your support, I'll update you after the event!


Mark's picture
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Well done you! (One can safely assume that you were picked because you would present well).

And a couple of thoughts:

I am QUITE glad you posted the invite note. I think each one of these things is ENORMOUSLY different, and the less you know, the narrower the scope of effective behavior. Assumptions will kill you in these things... and you won't know why.

I like the WWW/TALA thoughts, and would be VERY light on TALA, and only provide it if it were quite watered down.

I think the best approach is to think questions about the business. At his level, he's got a longer view - what about competitors, what about the marketplace, what are key issues for us to pay attention to in the next 6-9 months. What are his concerns, how would he translate the business to your level - what might he want to see changing in YOUR area as things change in the marketplace?

Focus UP and OUT, versus down and in.

Do let us know!


wendii's picture
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Well, I've been!

There was about 12 of us, 8 from one section of the business and 4 from the section I'm in. Our section is going through restructuring/business uncertainty, but the other section has been protected from this. There was an interesting difference in the questions - they were worried about payrises and personal development, whereas we were asking questions about if were going to have jobs!

It was all question and answers, no speechifying at all. I did ask one question (about the future of our business - thanks guys!), but mostly just listened - I did manage to help him remember the name of a book he was talking about! He was interesting and has ambitious growth plans for the business which is good - seeing as we only have one customer at the moment!


Mark's picture
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One more minefield navigated!

Too bad there are political rules to situations like this one.