It is more important than ever that you communicate regularly with your Executive. Despite working remotely, you have to be seen and heard – daily. This might be something that you have to manage, but it is so important. When times are tough, and economies are hard hit, employees who are seen not to add value (or just not seen), will be the ones who are let go. At the moment, you have to make it your priority that you are communicating regularly with your Executive and face-to-face.
I wrote a post about this a few months ago, which is worth another read if you find yourself out of the loop with your Executive.
With that being said, you can use lots of tactics to work with an Executive who is a poor communicator.
To make sure that you understand what is being asked of you, you must seek clarity. Ask questions that will give you the understanding you need to move forward with tasks and projects.
Summerise and repeat instructions back to your Executive.
For example, if your Executive asks you to compile a sales report for them without much further instruction, reply with ‘I can get the sales report for this quarter to you by the end of the day, will that work for you?‘. It might be that is exactly what they want, or they might reply with ‘actually I wanted the year-end report, and it is fine if you get it to me for the end of the week‘.
By summarising what they want and repeating what you think they want back to them ensures you know exactly where you stand with the task and your Executive’s expectations.
Set clear goals and priorities.
Again, working with a poor communicator means you are less likely to have structure around your role. You will have to set clear goals and priorities for yourself and lead your Executive down this path – if you can.
During your face to face meetings, you should have a document that tracks goals and objectives. This will help you stay on point and also stir the conversation so that a) the meetings are not a waste of time and b) you can accomplish what needs to be accomplished and c) you can keep yourself and your Executive on track.
We have a great one-to-one meeting template you can use to ensure your meetings are effective. You can download the FREE template here.
Understand the context.
Often by the time you are sitting down with your Executive to talk through tasks, projects and strategies, they have been through various meetings and read a ton of emails and reports to sit with you and deliver the key findings and plan out what is needed to move forward. That means putting all of this information into context can be challenging, especially for poor communicators.
It helps if you come prepared with an understanding of the context, what is going on in your organisation, the strategies and key deliverables that your Executive is working on. If you understand that, without your Executive having to explain, it is half the battle. When they do sit down with you, you have enough understanding to ask questions, push back on aspects you disagree with and help them deliver the context to your colleagues.
Be honest about the problem and suggest a solution.
Most Executives don’t intentionally keep their Assistants out of the loop or have poor communication skills they simply are not aware of their inabilities.
If their poor communication is just recent, and they were better at communicating in the office, it might take a simple nudge to remind them that you need to have consistent and clear communication with them. If it is an ongoing problem, you may need to have a more challenging conversation with them about working together and moving forward. It is a conversation worth having, suggesting that you both take a personality and preferences test to work on your communication.