Being a Good Coach: How to talk to Senior Leaders
When HR says that it wants to be strategic, it has to realize that a large part of being strategic is learning to communicate effectively with senior operating management. However, it doesn’t stop there. You want to be a person of insight and a person of influence. You want senior managers to turn to HR when a problem pops up.
So, how do you get the attention of senior management, impress him or her, and then influence his or her way of thinking? The best way to do this is to identify the hot button issues that are clearly on his/her agenda. Once the issues are identified, get in front of them. Don’t email. Don’t call. Push for face-to-face contact. When in front of them, be brief, be direct and offer value. Here’s how to do it effectively and efficiently:
Step 1: Introduce the topic. This step is a courtesy and should take no more than 90 seconds. Be succinct. Be clear. State only the facts.
Step 2: Provide some analysis. What this means is outline the sensitivities around the situation, as well as the opportunities. Again, state only the facts and keep this to 90 seconds or less.
Step 3: Give them the goal. It’s a good idea to give them the goal up front. In other words, it’s beneficial to let them know how things will be different as a result of your little chat. This step should be no more than 60 seconds. Don’t overwhelm with unnecessary detail.
Step 4: Provide options. You have 90 seconds to get them some options. Train yourself to offer them three (3) options:
1. The “do nothing” option. This is always a strategic consideration.
2. The “100% solution.”
3. The “125% solution.” Give them more than what they expect.
Step 5: Provide your recommendation. Always be ready with a recommendation. Don’t be afraid to tell them what you really think. It’s okay to disagree and challenge their assumptions. Remember, you are not making the decision for them; you are simply providing insight.
Members of senior management are driven, busy, and focused. If HR is going to help them, you need to ensure that you not only get their attention, but also offer them practical insight to make sound business and people decisions.
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