The Best Secret to Managing Up: Teaching Your Team Executive Presence
Have you ever been in a scene like this? Your team is working hard. Results are solid. But nobody seems to notice. Or worse, any skip level visits turn out so poorly, you begin to dread the very thought of a well-intentioned executive stopping by to talk with your team. How do you teach your team to get better at managing up?
An important part of Winning Well is helping your team showcase their results.
Here’s one of my favorite approach, I learned from Pete, one of my best District Managers in my role as a Verizon executive.
Even frontline teams need to learn executive presence.
Executive Presence Simplified
At Verizon, executives spend lots of time in the field observing and talking to teams— mostly unannounced. It’s a great way to stay close to the business.
They look for knowledge, service, culture, and execution.
One of my teams was notorious for “bad visits.” Until almost overnight the visits got better. Results improved. Reputations were saved.
I took Pete, the district manager to lunch. “Every visit’s been great! What changed?” He smiled, ‘it’s the green jacket effect.”
“I’ve been practicing with the team. We have all the store managers take turns visiting one another’s stores wearing a really ugly green jacket. The jacket triggers a simulation of an executive visit. Whoever is wearing the green jacket is to be treated like the executive visitor. We practice controlling the story. Practice helps. They are less nervous. They can now explain their results, articulate their action plans, and recognize their best performers. It’s an elevator speech on steroids.”
Tips for a Great Green Jacket Experience
- Greet them proactively with a firm handshake (demonstrate that you’re glad they came)
- Proactively explain your numbers and the reasons behind them
- Start with your opportunities and articulate key actions
- Share your creative approaches to implementing key initiatives
- Introduce them to other employees, and share something unique each person is doing
- Recognize a few people for their “wow” contributions
- Talk about your challenges and how they can help
- Share ideas for improved processes and how you are pursuing them
- Take active notes on all suggestions
- Send a thank you email summarizing all follow-up items