What's the best way to handle when a senior executive shows up at a scheduled meeting, states he's attending this meeting and would like to go first with his piece of information and input.  He's not on the attendee list or even cares about the agenda content.

Is it appropriate to politely excuse oneself and return when he has finished "his" agenda as I have not prepared for his surprise drive by and potential questions?



rwwh's picture
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No, it is not appropriate to run out of the meeting. You are not to tell a senior executive how to manage you or your meetings. It is more appropriate to reschedule the original meeting.


duplicate_account_MarkAus's picture

So, you think what you want to work on is more important that what the Senior Exec wants you to work on?    I mean, there's people who set agendas and then there's people who set the agenda for the organisation... 

Look, you have free will, you CAN leave.  It would certainly be a dramatic way to mark the moment when your career came to a grinding halt at the company.

Suck it up.  Senior Executives can crash and take over any meeting they want and you don't ways get to hear their questions in advance.   They can do this if for no other reason than their time is more expensive to the company than yours.

That's a long winded way of saying the answer to your second question is "No".   And why would you?  In my experience, face time with a senior person is a good thing.  

The answer to your first question is: You don't handle her, you listen to her.




GlennR's picture

Short answer: No.

I strongly believe that one of the core competencies of a successful manager, especially one who rises through the ranks is flexibility. On an organizational or territorial level a senior manager or sales manager must be able to respond to changes brought about by the competition, the economy, market changes, and technology, just to name a few.

On a micro-level, managers must be flexible in addressing everything from personnel changes to weather interruptions, to a senior walking into a meeting with no notice.

Adapt to the change or die as the dinosaurs did.

BTW, what do you think the reaction of the senior exec would be if you walked out of your meeting as he was about to speak? How promotable would you be after that?

Now, let's just say that the senior exec came in and his remarks were wildly inappropriate. After he left, repair the damage as much as possible and move on. Be flexible.

dmb41carter36's picture

Wow,. did I really read the OP correctly?

I like what Mark says, 90% of the time this works with 90% of the people. There's always the 10%. Bad luck that one of them is your senior exec. Glen stated it much more elegantly than I would have. 

I cannot imagine it becoming any weirder than the original meeting leader to exit when the senior person comes in!

jrb3's picture
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I agree with RWWH.  Stay, and reschedule if necessary.

Granted, perhaps there's a better way for him to get his message through.  But stay and hear -- he's trumping your agenda for a reason.  Better to know what was said, so you can add proper context for your folks afterwards.

Mark's picture
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Sit there and take it.

Welcome to adult professional land, where stuff happens you have to deal with, including idiotic senior people.