Dealing with C-Level professionals and other executives can be difficult for several reasons. Sometimes, it’s hard to connect with them because executives are built to see the bigger picture while mid-level and entry-level employees like us are paid to focus on the details. Other times, it’s hard to even get on an executive’s radar, considering they have work schedules that are nearly impossible to keep up with. Other executives like to follow the proper chain of command by communicating all necessary information through your senior-level directors and managers. And of course, there’s the worst: executives who feel like you should roll out the red carpet every time they walk by.
Regardless, there are ways to handle executives in a professional way while still maintaining your dignity. If you want to learn a few quick ways to stand out among your colleagues at your job, then keep reading to see what I’ve picked up so far.
Follow the proper chain of command, unless otherwise stated.
Unless you were told to contact an executive directly, don’t do it. No executive wants his/her inbox blown up with daily emails from you. Executives can easily get annoyed or miss something important. They already get a lot of emails as it is, and you don’t want to be just another name in their inbox.
Executives don’t care about the small details.
Don’t bore them with things like this. The only thing they’ll want to know is ‘Did the job get done?’ Plus, if you blabber on too long, it’ll only sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Provide your exec with a nice one-page progress report every now and then.
If you’re working on an extensive project, then supplying a one-page update for your executives can definitely come in handy. Everything they need to know about the project’s progress should be on one page. This way, they can easily scan and store that page in their important files should they need to.
Know your stuff, dude.
Especially if you’re working on a project for them. While executives may not like to be flooded with small details every day, you still need to know them. You never know when they might get curious. You have to be prepared in case they decide to call your office phone with lots of questions. When you know what you’re talking about, it reestablishes their confidence in you as an employee and all-around professional. Reference letter, anyone?
Executives are all about the numbers.
Execs love to know what type of return on investment (ROI) or numerical results came out of a project. If you can give them some type of chart or tangible results for them to see, this makes it easier for them to present their ideas to the rest of the executive team or even better, the board of directors. Making their jobs easier should be your goal.
Don’t take it personally, unless you have to.
I once had an executive in the C-Suite call my work “tacky” in front of a group of people. It hurt a little, but I kept my head up high because what she said didn’t affect the person I am. While of course I didn’t like the way she criticized me, I didn’t let her unkind words define me. When dealing with executives, you’re going to need a thick skin. But as long as you keep improving upon yourself and producing great work, then you have nothing to worry about.
Unless your exec says or does something that is against the law or against your workplace policy, then don’t take it personal. Move on.
It can be hard to deal with executives, especially since they tend to be from an older generation that is completely different from our own. But once you get past the job title, they’re just employees like you and me. Employees who want to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. What are your thoughts on executives? Have you ever had to work directly with an executive or someone in C-Suite? Leave your stories in the comment section below!