Expectations Cause Frustration
Roughly 20 years ago, I presented a round table session at Autodesk University focused on how CAD managers could meet management expectations. I came into the session thinking all CAD managers would be willing to have a dialog regarding the expectations from management — only that wasn’t the case at all. What I heard was frustration and lack of understanding via comments like these:
“They have no clue what I do!”
“How do they think I can get all this done?”
“These guys know nothing about CAD/BIM and just expect me to have all the answers.”
“Management has no comprehension what a mess our CAD/BIM standards are in and how little control I have over the situation.”
As the years have gone by, I continue to find these sentiments expressed at almost every CAD manager round table I present. Sadly, things haven’t gotten better and understanding management expectations continues to be a problem for many CAD managers.
So, how to get started? Let’s explore.
Initial Expectation: Communicate Well (and Often)!
Senior managers are presented with a wide variety of problems from all sorts of people, right? So, it stands to reason that they will appreciate it when the person reporting to them can communicate in a quick, unemotional, and easy to comprehend way, so they can get to work fixing the problems.
Now, let’s put this in a CAD manager’s context by making the following communication recommendations:
Inform via short reports. Write in a short, executive summary style when creating emails or printed reports. View your writing as a “conversation starter” that grabs senior management’s interests so you can confer with them in detail later. It is better to pique senior management’s interest with a quick email than bore them with a long, detail laden message that they’ll never finish reading.
Bottom line: KISS — Keep it simple and send one written page max!
Why: Because they don’t know what you’re doing, unless you tell them.
Update your budget. Whether you do a formal budget or not, make sure you take the time to communicate what you need and any upcoming expenses you feel aren’t being accounted for. It is far better to have told management about a financial need ahead of time (even if they don’t listen) than to admit you never even asked. If there is a spreadsheet or official format for submitting budget requests, take time to get acquainted with it and use it.
Bottom line: Those who pay attention to budgets are serious about management.
Why: To get the budget you want, you must properly follow protocol when you ask.
Give great presentations. Whenever you give a talk to a group of managers, make sure you have a few “conversation starter” slides you can use to make key points. Steer clear of long presentations with lots of bullet points — it’s better to have fewer, less specific slides. Just like shorter written reports lead to conversations, shorter presentations lead to more innovative and meaningful conversations.
Bottom line: When presenting to management you can’t tell them what they should think, you must bring them around to agreeing with you.
Why: Because you want to have an ongoing conversation.
Review progress regularly. Whether you’re reviewing your own performance, other employees, project teams, or how well a new piece of software performs, make sure your management team knows you’re reviewing how things are going.
Bottom line: When management sees you review the performance of key personnel, systems, and teams, they are reminded that you’re a manager and are more likely to support your needs.
Why: Because the more often you talk with management, the better your level of understanding becomes, and vice-versa.
Now that you're talking more often with management, what else do you need to think about? Find out how to "ungeek" your language so upper management understands what you really need to fix problems, how to keep users motivated, and how to stay business-focused. Find out more >>