Unless you are part of senior management the closest most of us come to the Board of Directors (BODs) or executives is reading their Ivy League bios on the company website. But a good consultant knows the way to your bosses heart is by making the BODs very happy. The good news is making the big-whigs happy isn’t that hard – you just have to think like an executive. Here’s a few things I’ve done along the way:
1. Align Projects to BOD Objectives
The BODs primary objective is to work with executives and senior management provide strategic direction. Their objectives ultimately set the tone and priorities for the company – so you should pay attention to what they care about and align your projects to facilitate those objectives. For example, if your BOD is concerned about cybersecurity it might be helpful to take on a few projects that clearly manage cybersecurity risks.
2. Speak the BODs Language
You’ve taken the first step an aligned your projects to the BODs strategic objectives. Great! Except the BOD doesn’t realize you are doing anything important because what they call “cybersecurity” you call “logical access testing”. When communicating with the BOD (who may or may not be an expert in your field) it is vital to categorize and link projects to BOD objectives. Think of it like translating your projects into BOD language.
I typically take the time to categorize my projects into strategic buckets (or categories) that align to BOD objectives. This makes it easy for leadership to map my work with what they find important to the Company. It’s also an easy way to make sure you get full credit for great projects.
3. Create Dashboards and Views that Answer Executive-Level Questions
Make an effort to anticipate the questions leadership are asking – then create dashboards and data-views that answer those questions quickly. Dashboards are a great way to present large amounts of data and trends that are also digestible for executives. It’s also a good way to show you are paying attention to what’s important to the company (because you are!).
4. Make Collaboration and Communication Easy
If you are in the habit of working with other departments (Internal Consultants, Internal Audit, for example) or working with executives then you should have an easy way to communicate vital information. One way to do that is via periodic meetings or status reports, but a more impressive (and real-time) option is to create a web portal (like SharePoint) that stores details and dashboards that executives may want to explore.
If you go this route it’s important to present a clear and accurate message. Data should be final and never represent findings or conclusions that are in-progress. You never want to put yourself in a position where executives make assumptions based on incomplete data or want to hold you accountable for it.
5. Show Off Your Work
Don’t be afraid to brag a little. Sometimes I run into incredible solutions tucked away in a spreadsheet somewhere on a staff accountant’s desktop, but he never got credit for it and the company missed an opportunity. It’s great to be humble, but if you’re doing great work tell someone about it!