Pretend for a second you have a 1:1 feedback session with your boss. Or you are being considered for a promotion. Or you have some face time with another senior leader you don’t get to interact with much. Each one of these scenarios presents an opportunity to shine, to put your best foot forward to differentiate yourself.
The temptation is great to want to impress and talk about your past accomplishments. But consider this — by doing so you are robbing yourself of the chance to actually stand out among your peers or outside candidates.
1. Your Boss Cares about Results, Not Your Accomplishments
Restrain yourself from doing most of the talking. Instead, do a lot of listening as to what problem your conversation partner is trying to solve. What would really help him move the organization forward? Obviously he is looking for a specific result, a particular outcome. How can you demonstrate that you can achieve the desired result? What acumen do you have that sets you apart from others who might be interested in the same opportunity? Why should your boss trust you to get the job done?
Provide specific examples of what makes you the one who can deliver. Differentiate yourself by describing why your process to get to the desired outcome is the most promising. Unless you can credibly describe why your path will lead to the desired outcome, you will be passed up. If your experience is not applicable to solving the problem, you could be wasting your breath.
2. Your Boss Cares about Her Experience in the Process, Not How You Do It
Will she have to nag you for updates or will she be bombarded with too much detail? Will she get the feeling that the project is in good hands with you and that she can rely on you to get the job done on time and on budget? Will you be able to handle the transition and transformation to bring others along for the ride?
She assumes that you know how to do it. She will help, but only if you ask. So, if you are stuck, ask for help. Your boss loves to give advice. Think about it, a lawyer or an accountant doesn’t tell you how they do their job, right? You just expect them to know how to do it.
3. Your Boss Cares about the Return on Investment, Not the Cost
It’s your responsibility to show the return on investment. Don’t just think of actual dollars. What is the cost of speed of execution, a lower performance, absenteeism, retention, on boarding, employee engagement, etc.? How will you measure the immediate and long-term return on investment? Do you know how to speak the executive language of the real cost of the problem? Have you been trained to demonstrate the ROI? What risks are involved and what do you propose to mitigate those?
Don’t talk process — instead help them make progress!
Can your boss rely on you to get the job done on time and on budget?
Photo curtesy of Noah Näf