Craft Your Message for Quicker Decisions
Those of you on the receiving end of this material know exactly what I mean. Sometimes, there is just too much to absorb. These mounds of paper end up in the dreaded “in-box” pile, where they remain until there is more time.
After all, someone went to a lot of work, so there is an obligatory review that must take place to give it due time and attention. Most executives do not have this time unless the issue is front-burner.
By providing too much detail, the decision-making process can be lengthened unnecessarily, putting an undue burden on the decision-maker you are addressing.
Here are three tips to help steer the mind of the recipient toward a decision:
Keep it brief – The volume of data that executives have to process every day is mind-boggling. Additionally, individuals presenting to executives may try to show off all their hard work by disclosing everything, but it’s better to consider the busy executive on the receiving end. Start out with less and get the recipient “engaged” first. Provide more detail only if asked. At the very least, this keeps continuous motion toward making a decision. Too much detail and your proposal dies a death until someone actually has time to look at it.
Provide the meaning of the analysis – Do not give executives volumes of information and statistical data expecting them to analyze it and draw their own conclusions. Proposals should include the meaning of the information in one or two sentences. Many times, executives receive proposals from vendors or subordinates containing graphs, charts and every shred of backup, without explanation of what they should glean from it. The missing element – the conclusion – is exactly what is needed to make the decision obvious. If the data show that you have improved net operating income 20%, say it and state it clearly. Do not expect the recipient to come to that conclusion because you have put together a chart representing it. While visually appealing, it’s not direct enough for the individual to arrive at the conclusion quickly. You need to point your audience in the right direction without requiring them to get into the minutiae. If needed, the details can come later.
Provide justification and options – Even though most executives want summarized information, they also want to have a comfort level that they can justify why a decision was made. They want the people that look over their shoulder to understand there is logic to the decision that was made, even if the reality is that the decision was made completely based on instinct, likeability or a long-term relationship. There is far more scrutiny on award selections, strategy choices and other decisions than in the past. You need to help the decision-maker make his/her case in the event they are asked. This may seem counterintuitive to the “less is better” approach above, but the key is to refrain from giving every sheet of backup and to focus on providing more than one alternative that will allow the busy executive to make a choice between items rather than scrutinize the validity and detail of one option. However, you increase your chances of getting a decision more quickly if you provide only one possible solution.
Before presenting materials to executive-level decision-makers, consider using the above three tips when reviewing your submission. It should help reach a conclusion, rather than catapult the executive into a delayed analytical mode. In a world of fast-paced technology overload, we can secure more wins by simplifying what gets presented to the individuals making the decisions.
Kirsten Dolan, President and COO of One Parking, has more than 20 years’ experience operating and maximizing the revenues of clients’ parking assets. Formerly responsible for the operations and profitability of more than 200 West Coast locations, Dolan now oversees the operational and financial aspects of the One Parking portfolio at the corporate level and all marketing associated with its locations.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.