Your boss is busy. Your boss’s boss is busy. Chances are they get hundreds of emails weekly, all from different employees who are also trying to get ahead in their careers. If you want to stand out from your competition, you need to make sure you’re communicating yourself efficiently. Making even minor tweaks in the way you communicate with your boss can help you get noticed and ultimately elevate your career.
Lead with a Call to Action
When I was getting started in my tech career, I learned from an exec the importance of always leading with a call to action. This can be applied to doing a presentation, sending an email, creating a PowerPoint, etc. You always want to start with your headline or thesis so that you can grab the audience’s (aka your boss’s) attention from the get-go.
When your boss is getting hundred of emails and phone calls every day about various projects, leading with a call to action not only grabs their attention but asks them to do something. Leading with something simple that also requires a response/action on their end will get you seen.
Keep it Concise and to the Point
Market yourself or your email like you would market a product. How would you advertise this product? You want to lead with something that stands out right off the bat and then get straight to the point of what you’re trying to sell.
Written communication with your boss should never be long-winded. Lead with your call to action, and then get to the point of what you’re trying to communicate. Corporate bosses don’t have time to read paragraphs upon paragraphs in emails; if they need more information, they’ll ask for it.
Several years ago, I worked directly with the CTO at a startup whose time was very limited. We’d interact only when a critical decision needed to be made that required his buy-in. Because he was high level and I was in the trenches, I knew the details, and he didn’t. So when I came to him for a decision, I would lead with the issue and present my option/solution first. Then, if he wanted more details, I’d provide those along with more options.
Highlight What’s In It For Them
Yes, you’re trying to prove that what you have to say is important and ultimately get yourself a higher position. But you need to make it clear why this matters to your boss. What’s in it for them? Why would promoting you ultimately help them and better the company? Make it about your boss.
Make sure your pitch is customized to your audience. If you’re sending an email, add a personalized touch to it instead of sending the same mass email to everyone. If you’re presenting or speaking at an event, make sure you know your audience and cater your presentation accordingly. This is essential. Know your market and assure them you have what it takes to get them what they need.
Offer a direct way to help your boss, save them time, or save them money. It’s a surefire way to get yourself noticed.
Be Intentional and Direct
Make sure you’re not constantly flooding your boss with emails or coming on too strong – this ultimately might lead to you getting looked over and ignored. Essentially it can take away from what you’re trying to communicate. Be intentional when you reach out or present and avoid cluttering your boss’s inbox with too many emails. Remember – it’s a balancing act.
You need to be seen as someone who thinks about their audience yet is also direct. If you want ‘XYZ,’ ask for that directly, don’t beat around the bush. An employee who is straightforward with what they need shows confidence as well as intelligence.
If you’re looking for help in identifying your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to communicating, check out DevelopHer’s membership and individual resources for leveling up your career. Joining the membership community at DevelopHer has helped thousands of women learn to communicate better, negotiate their worth, and build their value. Sometimes when you’re stuck, getting an outside perspective from other hard-working women in the tech field can give you the push you need to further your career. It’s definitely been a game-changing factor in my career.
These changes, while minor adjustments, can ultimately lead to a huge advancement in your career. Be deliberate with these adjustments and consistent in your approach to better communication, and I promise you’ll start to notice positive changes.