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Build a stronger working relationship with your boss by tailoring your presentations

Woman Making A Business Presentation To A GroupIn September 2013, I wrote a series of three blog posts focused on how to build a stronger working relationship with your boss.  Specifically, I covered keeping your boss informed, learning more about his style, and finding out her objectives.  So I thought I’d take another look at this important topic in the next three blog posts.  And today, I want to address the importance of tailoring your presentation approach so that it matches your boss’s.

Some senior leaders are detail people who appreciate in-depth background information, and others are big-picture thinkers who value concise recommendations.  The former usually expect full contextual data, but the latter just want a “one-pager” that gives them everything they need to know at a glance.  Take the time to understand which one your boss is, or at least what end of the continuum s/he tends towards.  You can do this in a couple of ways. 

First, watch for behavioural and conversational clues – did the boss read the comprehensive report you sent two days before the meeting, or is he looking closely at the one-page summary you gave him this morning?  Is she asking questions about specifics in the tables and the graphs in your presentation, or is she focusing on overall trends and future outcomes?

Second, why beat around the bush, just come right out and ask.  Do you want 1-2 slides or 5-10 in this PowerPoint presentation I’m pulling together for you?  Would you prefer that I send you a briefing document in advance of our meeting, or would you like to look at the underlying data?

When you tailor your presentation approach to match your boss’s, you’re being strategic in more ways than one.  Not only are you setting yourself up to be a valuable resource to the boss (think future career success), but you’re also saving yourself a lot of the time and aggravation that comes from doing work that wasn’t needed or wasn’t what the boss wanted.  I call this a double-win!

Next week I’ll have two more ideas on improving your working relationship with your boss to offer, but in the meantime, what are your tips?  What are some specific actions that you have taken to build a more solid rapport with your immediate manager?  Please share.

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