A meeting with the boss: how to interact with CEOs and senior executives

Rauf Fadzillah
Jun 22


There's much that can be said about the link between personal well-being and productivity. Make your people feel confident and comfortable and you may just see a huge spike in the right direction.

Empower and provide your people with a sense of self-worth. The pure satisfaction of seeing them carry themselves with pride and carry out their tasks more efficiently could very well be one of those things that can give you the most satisfaction in life.

Human resource management is about humans and human beings are beautifully complex creatures.

When they are at their best, they can really shine, however, in much the same way, some of your best employees may end up struggling, feeling like a worthless mess. Trying to help your employees find their footing can be an equally delicate exercise.

Getting called into the boss' office is the workforce equivalent of getting called to the principal's office. Faced with a trip to the lion's den, many a brave employee can be reduced to a blubbering mess.

As a superior, you have to appreciate the fact that having to communicate with the organisation’s CEO or members of upper management can be a nail-biting experience.

Some CEOs/leaders actually design the experience to be intimidating (through the placement of furniture or lighting used in their space). Others (like Steve Jobs or Amazon's Jeff Bezos) may have simply built up such a mythical quality around their personalities that employees can't help but become a bundle of nerves when sent into their presence (especially if they know that they are in trouble for something).

Ultimately, it all comes down to your company culture and the type of outfit you intend to run.

It may not be such a bad idea to empathise with your staff. Working up the courage to bring something up to a scary boss is not fun and striking that fine line between 'my office is always open' and 'boundaries between boss and subordinate' is something each leader is going to have to figure out one way or another.

No matter how many different approaches your staff try, it could be that they always find themselves falling back into this loop of having a lot of trouble when trying to communicate with members of their leadership.

Nevertheless, if you are an employee, take note that being able to communicate effectively with your bosses can be very important if you intend to rise up the ranks (maybe become a supervisor/part of management yourself).

In order to climb that corporate ladder or get that pay raise, however, the quicker you master how to properly connect with your superiors, the better things can be for you. Your ideas could end up in powerful ears if you know how to properly foster a relationship with upper management, HR management, the CEO...etc.

Here are three things that may help you if you are having trouble communicating effectively with your superiors/leadership.

Focus more on the future

Although talking about your past achievements and the challenges that you've faced is a good way to let senior management understand your value/experience, exaggeration is unnecessary. Exaggeration can even be a subconscious thing but you have to be careful because it can really catch up with you and make you look bad. Again, a delicate balance has to be struck between showing how you learned/grew and trying to justify your previous mistakes and rationalize the past. Making yourself look bad in front of others can be a real art. Remember, you don't want to seem like some perfect/flawless human being but at the same time, you want to wear failure like an honorary badge.

Express your vision of what’s to come for the organisation. The future is a major concern for many companies and you may be doing your leadership a great favour by sharing this concern and feeding them with valuable, well-developed ideas. At times, likely everyone will have to reflect on his/her past in order to learn and grow but drawing lessons from the past (within a work context) should probably only be directed at helping your current organisation excel.

Do not beat around the bush

In an attempt to maybe not seem disrespectful or make fool of themselves, people may omit things or keep themselves from getting straight to the point when talking to their superiors. Overloading your speech with needless/meaningless words does nothing and remember that your superiors are likely much busier than you and really like it when you respect their time.
Be economical with your words. Begin with the headline before following up with the context that is necessary to solidify your message. Also, it can help to try and gauge or learn your superior's personality (does he/she prefer bad news or good news first or does your superior prefer knowing the punchline first before the set up). Also, instead of trying to sugarcoat things, appreciate the fact that your bosses probably deal with more frequent (and much bigger) problems on a daily basis than you do so give it to them straight, they should be able to handle it.

Value feedback and advice

Maybe your little chat with the boss didn’t turn out very successful, maybe it did. Either way, what you got out of it was just that- a meeting with the boss. You likely ended up getting some form of feedback (even if it was just a raised eyebrow). You may even have received some frank advice which, depending on how you look at it, can either be constructive criticism or a painful dressing down. Do not put your dukes up and get defensive. Listen to what your bosses have to say and learn. After all, no matter what you may think, he/she is on the other side of the table and you are not.

A smarter HR system for a smarter business: Carbonate helps you keep track of attendance and leaves in your company, and keeps you connected to your staff with its built-in broadcasting and promotion messaging tool. Its employee profiles and HR leave management system meet MOM 2016 Employment Act Amendment requirements.
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