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“ I submitted a detailed report to my boss” said the young manager “ He didn’t seem to care. It had so much data. I spent days preparing it. My boss told me to brief him in 2 minutes about this project. Is it fair?” he moaned.

It may not appear fair to the young man but the mistake he had made was in not understanding his boss well enough. As you know, people are different.

While some prefer to talk things over in person, others may like information sent to them in the form of a email or report. While some may prefer short summaries, others may want detailed explanations.

You may have many ideas but are you able to sell them effectively to your boss?

Karl J. Ahlrichs, SPHR a Human Resources Consultant with Professional Staff Management, a Human Resources solutions company headquartered in Indiana, makes these important points:

  • It is getting tougher to sell ideas. All audiences have higher standards and shorter attention spans, and are becoming very selective about the messages they will “hear:”
  • Who are your clients? Recognize that individual departments have differing styles and cultures, and therefore will better respond to different messages.
  • Define their style. Based on their need for information and desire for a personal relationship, a four quadrant model is built that explains the best way to sell an idea to the different groups.
  • Adjust your message to their style. Learn concise, practical skills that work with each population.

Ahlrichs says there are 4 types of bosses with varying needs for information and relationship. The strategy for selling to each one varies:
1.Transaction oriented: Wants small amount of information, low degree of relationship

Be brief and to the point, preferably on paper or email. Use only 1 page with a brief summary. Use bullets for benefits, costs, deadlines and any corroborating opinions. If there is a deadline for response, be sure to include that information up front. Keep chitchat to the minimum.

2. Information Oriented: Wants large amount of information, low degree of relationship

Be brief and to the point, plus add an appendix with supporting material. Include trends, reference information, resources for more information etc. Make a great deal of information available. Keep conversation on tasks.

3. Relationship oriented: Wants small amount of information, high degree of relationship

Face to face meetings are needed. Provide several examples of why this idea will work. Ask questions to involve the manager in the planning. Follow up with a written document that is tailored to your dept. Use specific references. Talk about non-work topics which interest him/her.

4. Partnership oriented: Wants large amount of information and high degree of relationship

Meetings should be accompanied with full documentation as described earlier. Regular face to face meetings should be augmented with content-rich interactions via email and phone.
Talk about non-work topics which interest him/her. Ask about family, hobbies, vacation etc.

Observe your boss and peers. Understand what works best for them. Use these techniques as selling your ideas to your boss is crucial for success

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