Briefing the big boss

Briefing the big boss

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Briefing the big boss
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Practise speaking by describing this image

warm up

Answer the questions below.

  • How approachable are the managers in your company?
  • Have you ever heard about managing up? What do you think it is?
  • How can subordinates increase their chances of being heard by their superiors?


Listen to the audio. What is the main message of this HBR Management Tip?



Briefing the Big Boss

1. There’s no shortage of advice on how to 2. brief a senior leader: Keep it short, 3. front-load the message, and so on. But you can’t 4. undervalue the interpersonal dynamics in the room when you’re presenting 5. crucial information to the big boss. So before the meeting, identify the senior leader’s most trusted advisor. Consult with that person ahead of time so they’ll be able to 6. vouch for you and back up the information you’re presenting. Their support will help you earn the senior leader’s trust. Next, 7. familiarize yourself with your boss’s instructions. For example, what are their 8. nonverbal cues that 9. indicate that they want you to either say more or hurry up. You need to adapt your style in real time based on their reaction — so make sure you know what those signals are. Finally, find out how your boss engages with material. Are they someone who pushes back on points? Are they a quiet listener? Or do they ask a lot of questions? Being aware of these things ahead of time will make you more effective in communicating the right message under pressure.

This tip is adapted from “How to Brief a Senior Executive,” by Grant T. Harris

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Answer the questions below. Try to throw some of the newly learned words into your answers.

  • What are some pieces of advice on how to brief a big boss?
  • What shouldn’t we undervalue?
  • Why is it a good idea to find someone who could vouch for us?
  • What should we familiarize ourselves with?
  • How does learning how our boss engages with a material help us?
  • Are there any other tips that can help us be more effective presenting under pressure?

Time for a short summary. Watch this video and read all the questions. Do you think it could be practical to take them into consideration when you are briefing the big boss?



Cast your vote in the poll.

Which piece of advice from the article do you find most practical?



What advice would you give to a colleague who had to present in front of the Management Board for the first time?

How important is it for the success of a business that top management are approachable and easy to talk to?

Share your views and experience here.