Although most of the time manager’s meetings are boring affairs, some of the time they can result in you being grilled and sautéed by your superiors for things that are, frankly, not your fault. Normally this is because of bad figures (well always, actually). So, how can you survive the inevitable roasting from senior management? Just follow our 5 tips and you will be fine.
1) Print and keep all memos – Memos are what you are sent from senior management in a bid to control the actions of the employees in a company. You are asked to read, sign and return them. They normally deal with things like “Under no circumstances can coffee and tea be bought with company money”. Do yourself a favour and print them and store them in a folder that you take along to the manager’s meetings. At some point a member of senior management will moan at you for not performing a particular task and you will triumphantly pull out the memo written 6 months ago that stated that under no circumstances should this task be undertaken. Cue embarrassed senior management.
2) Keep copies of emails – In a similar vein you should keep copies of emails that could help you. For example, you may have informed a member of senior management that something requires fixing in the shop and nothing has happened. Print off the email and store it alongside your memos. Think of it like an ace in the hole and pull it out when necessary.
3) Blame everything on lack of training – If things aren’t going so well, don’t just sit there and take your medicine; blame everything on a lack of training or subtly try to palm off responsibility onto senior management by indicating that you haven’t had proper support in your role.
4) Memorise these choice phrases:
“Progress isn’t always in a straight line.” This is very hard to come back on for senior management because it is true.
“The fundamentals are in place but I just need more time.” This indicates that although you have not achieved what you have wanted, your time has been well spent preparing the foundation.
“When you point a finger there are 3 pointing back at you.” All senior management will instinctively nod along to this one. It basically says that you are above a “blame culture” and all in all are someone who would really rather fix problems than blame.
5) Answer every question with a question –
Q: “Why are sales so poor?”
A: “How can I run a shop whilst two members of staff down?”
Q: “Why did you have a bad audit?”
A: “How do you suggest I keep the stock in a secure location when the door of the store room has a broken lock? Look I have an email I sent 3 months ago requesting it be fixed and nothing was done.”
Q: “Why is the margin so low?”
A: “How am I supposed to combat the rise in the internet based shopping culture?”
Surviving an aggressive meeting is a subtle art. You have to deflect blame from yourself onto senior management but without being too blunt about it. You have to master choice phrases that will enable you to talk fluently in the 2nd language that is known as management-speak. And when you have truly mastered management-speak and how to deflect blame you will be ready to be a senior manager.
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