Part II: Maintaining Executive Support for Your Initiative
Hold regular meetings
Once you have the attention of your executive, it is important that you keep that attention.Set a meeting schedule and stick to it. This helps set a battle rhythm for your project to keep things moving. For a major project I managed, I set meetings every other month. As the project neared its delivery date, I moved to a monthly schedule to keep efforts synchronized as the pace of change increased. No one wants to discuss the same problem twice in front of the C-Suite – use this to your advantage.
Be brief, be prepared for sideline discussions
Don't waste you executives' time.You can quickly summarize your project and previous meetings with a couple of slides.Normally my presentation for an hour meeting was 10 slides.One slide that outlined risk status carried most of the conversation.This slide presented risk in terms of red/yellow/green categories – I would normally lead off on the risk areas that showed as red.Executives' attention is going to focus on the problems areas, so you want to address that early in your presentation.Be prepared for questions and anticipate what those will be – I would normally have several backup slides that I only went to if a certain question was asked.If questions requiring more details are not asked, don't worry about it!Stay on topic with your discussion and continue moving forward.
Make the agenda available ahead of time
As your project progresses, make sure everyone in the executive meeting has a chance to preview your material.It will help make it a more focused and productive meeting. If you plan on discussing specific problems, be sure the individuals involved are informed ahead of time.You don't want to spring surprises on people in front of their bosses.
If your project is facing a challenge, be sure to mention it along with any plan of action.This is vital yet sometimes difficult to do.I've had other executives get upset and yell at me after previewing my material discussing a problem coming from their department.But the alternative is worse: whitewashing problems with your executive sponsor and then divulging the problems later when they affect the outcome of the project.
Be Specific in what you need
A good executive is going to ask, "What do you need from me?"Be prepared to answer this question specifically.