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A bit of background:  I work for a VERY large corporation, in the IT department.  We've been in the news some lately and have major executive level changes and our new CEO has put in motion a number of efforts to improve culture, etc.  All good changes.  Very Good. 

However, there are some improvements in IT that have been talked about in very high level terms for a few months now with no action to back them up.  Everywhere I turn, I hear people wondering/griping about when something concrete will happen, just waiting for "the big announcement" whatever that is.  Very unproductive and making me crazy.  I am two levels down from the CIO and the area in question just happens to be my area of expertise.  So I sent him an email with some specific (constructive) suggestions on what could be done to move things forward - goals, actions, that sort of thing.  Thought I might get a thank you and better yet, maybe news that these things were underway.  To my surprise I got a very thoughtful reply saying he liked my ideas and to hook up with a certain person on his staff to put a plan together!  I'm very excited, but -- I've never worked in any detail with folks at that level. 

So now what?  I have a meeting this week with the designated guy.  Have been putting more meat around my ideas to prepare.  But I must admit I'm at a loss on how to interact with them, how to pursue this etc. 

Looking for helpful hints on C-level interactions...

TomW's picture

First off, congratulations!

Well, the first point is probably something missing from this post: BLUF, Bottom Line Up Front.Make your point and then expand upon it. Don't keep them guessing as to what the point might be or when it might be coming. For example, this whole question could have been summarized "I'm suddenly put in a position to work with C-level executives to implement some ideas that I had presented... how do I do that?" Knowing that is the question, we can then read the background knowing that it is informing the details of the answer.

Honesty is vital. If you get a question to which you don't know the answer, admit that you don't know, tell them you will find out, and when they can expect the answer.

Remember that they are people too. They just have more responsibility than you do. Breathe, relax, and you will be fine. You will probably learn a lot by paying attention to what they say and how they say it.

 

chris.g.hess@gmail.com's picture

First off, congratulations!

Without having specifics I can only offer this high level suggestion as I have seen it firsthand. 

Understand you audience! 
 
 
What I mean by that is executives are generally not interested in the nuts and bolts details of the plan, which is more for the people executing the plan. The executive will more than likely want to see a summary of your plan as they will not be as familiar with the day-to-day of the precise details that make up your plan.  They will be more concerned with what your intended results are and may offer guidance but it sounds like you are going to be given the reigns here.  Yes, you should have these details just in case they ask to see them or want some granularity but your initial presentation should not be overwhelming in detail when presenting to an executive.
 
You will present a high level plan to the executives and the detailed plan of how to get there will be delivered to the team executing.
Hope this gives you a little help.
 
Congrats. This sounds like you have an outstanding opportunity.

Chris

chris.g.hess@gmail.com's picture

TomW beat me to it....

RaisingCain's picture

Take with a grain of salt as I saw the words about background and decided to skip to the end. You have a meeting. If you are facilitating it have a good agenda and prewire it. If you are not the facilitator ask for an agenda or get some objectives and…prewire it. If you’re not sure how to interact with the person, ask them how they like to be interacted with…as part of the prewire. I think you get my main action item here. Bottom line, don’t wait until the meeting to talk to the person. I think they would appreciate your attempts to be effective and make the most of their time.

RC
Edit: I went back and read the high points so I'll add.  You called it a meeting, STOP, its an interview.

JWWilcox's picture

All the comments above are excellent.  I would only add a technique that I use.  Work on your presentation document to get it as short as humanly possible and still get the message(s) across.  This will force you to think clearly.....no stories.  Go over it several times.  You may also want to present it to trusted peers for a quality check. 

kima's picture

First - shame on me; thought about BLUF when i wrote the orginal post and led with background anyway. 

Second -- thanks for all your great advice!  I really appreciate it. 

 

Kim

kima's picture

First - shame on me; thought about BLUF when i wrote the orginal post and led with background anyway. 

Second -- thanks for all your great advice!  I really appreciate it. 

 

Kim

thebeezer's picture

Meeting a Senior Executive - very helpful information here.   

arthurb999's picture

What does your boss think about all this?

RaisingCain's picture

Yes, I was thinking of that one when I called it an interview.  I could not remember the overall topic of the cast.  Yes, good call.

RC

kjhbike's picture

Echoing what Arthur had to say, the first thing I thought of when reading the original post was "You went right to the CIO without going through your direct supervisor?"  Unless there is information that you left out, I'd be betting your supervisor is none too pleased.

asteriskrntt1's picture

Congrats Kim

Am I accurate in reading you as a High I?  As someone who has been fairly low in the organization and suddenly thrown to the C-levels, you learn that they are C-levels for a reason.  I doubt your CIO is expecting you to be Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.  There is no perfect plan.  Use the DISC tools to read your executive and try to do significantly more listening than speaking.  Good luck.

Oh, and after the initial greeting say "I know how busy you are.  I really appreciate you making time for me."