How to Influence Senior Management
Clear communication with top management can help you advance your career.
Unless you’re starting your own business, you’re not going to start your career at the top. Instead, you’ll be one of the many blocks in the middle of an organizational chart. But that doesn’t mean you have no influence. In fact, with the proper focus and communication skills, you can make yourself heard all the way up the organizational ladder. Here are a few ways you can influence senior management.
Keep Your Intentions Pure
Why do you want to communicate with senior management? If your primary goal is to get noticed or be liked by higher-ups, you should stop and reconsider. Most managers want employees who are focused on the organization. They aren’t likely to respond well to interactions that seem sycophantic or self-serving. When communicating with senior management, keep your intentions focused on improving productivity, lifting up employee morale, or instituting other types of initiatives that can help your organization be its best. When you do so, you’ll improve your chances of being heard.
See Things From Management’s Perspective
The desires of employees and the objectives of management don’t always align. For instance, while employees may desire monthly cake and ice-cream parties to celebrate birthdays, management may worry about the drop in productivity those parties could cause. If you want to influence anyone in senior management, you have to make sure you’re considering their perspective. It will help you anticipate all the reasons they might reject your idea, which will help you better frame your arguments.
Tailor Your Style to Fit the Specific Manager
Not all managers are the same. While it doesn’t take a degree from the best business schools to figure that out, it does take time to understand what approaches work best for what types of managers. Broadly, there are four types of management personalities:
- Driver: focuses strongly on results; makes decisions quickly and decisively
- Expressive: takes a creative, social approach and gravitates toward innovative ideas
- Amiable: believes in creating a low-conflict work environment; prefers collaboration and lower-risk ideas
- Analytical: places a lot of value on data; takes a logical, non-emotional approach to decision-making
Each of these managers is likely to respond differently to any given argument. Before you approach your manager, make sure you understand his or her style and then structure your argument in a way that improves your chances of making a successful case.
Stress the Benefits
While a manager’s personality may heavily influence which style of argument you use, there’s one approach that remains universal: stress the benefits of your ideas, not the features. What does this mean? In the example of the cake and ice-cream party, don’t bog down your argument with details about who will buy the cake or what kind of ice cream you recommend. Instead, focus on how a monthly cake and ice-cream party benefits the organization. Once you’ve convinced a senior manager of the overall benefit, you can work out the specifics.
Improve Your Credibility
When approaching senior management, it’s helpful to seem credible. And one of the best ways to improve your credibility is to improve your résumé with a top-notch business degree. In specific, a Master of Business Administration (MBA degree) can add significant credibility because managers know that employees who’ve graduated from top MBA programs have studied business practices on an in-depth level. It’s why you should strongly consider a master’s of business administration if you’re going to earn any business administration degree or management degree.
But can you find the time to complete a business administration master’s program? Thanks to online learning, you can. Through an online MBA program, you won’t have to travel to a campus or attend classes at specific times. Instead, you can earn an online MBA from home and on a flexible schedule that allows you to complete coursework at times that are convenient for you. That makes it possible to earn an MBA online while continuing to work full time.
Walden University’s MBA program is offered in two learning formats. The course-based format is great for students who prefer an instructor-led approach to learning. For those who are looking for a custom-paced approach that allows you to potentially speed your progress based on prior knowledge and experience, Walden’s competency-based MBA program is a good degree option to consider.
Influencing senior management is not always easy. But with the advantages of online education, you can gain the skills and credibility you need to make yourself heard.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online Master of Business Administration degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.