You’ve drafted an impressive proposal with an appealing (you think) ROI. You ship it to your boss with a lovely covering letter. A week goes by – and there’s no reply. Will she approve the budget or won’t she? The uncertainty drives you crazy.
Welcome to the world of management, where things are not what they seem. I, N.Subra, will try to answer all your queries and ensure success at work (caution: I often get things wrong!),
Let’s start by determining which of the five species of non-responsive personas fit your boss. This will help us in “getting to yes” quickly.
If your boss is a get-it-right person, you are in good luck. She’s super responsive – when the answer is yes. A no-reply doesn’t mean no, she needs more convincing. Follow up with a few thoughtful conversations and slip in more data, and she will be all set.
Sometimes, you end up with a straight-shooter boss. Straight-shooters always respond irrespective of their decision. To soften the blow of a no, they use some mystical words like economic uncertainty, cautious business outlook and paradigm shift. These words don’t mean anything, but they help lessen the pain – think of them as anaesthetics before surgery. So if your boss is a straight shooter and still hasn’t replied – there’s only one reason. She’s misplaced the email! Resend the proposal, and the answer will come back to you.
Then there’s the famous Ms.M modelled after James Bond’s boss. She has a “no questions asked, and no answers tendered” policy. You go about your business of changing the world – and with the minimum of documentation. She believes the less she knows, the more she can claim ignorance should things blow up later. Unfortunately, this model is going extinct as a result of all the mandatory audits, legislation, and treaties today. Don’t be surprised if you see Mr.Bond in his next movie scanning expenses and logging them on SAP!
Ms.No, our fourth persona is an expert at just that – saying no. She uses silence as a proxy for “no”. You bung in any proposal, and she goes silent. She has a sound logic – if something is vital, you’d probably find creative ways to make it happen. You need sleight of hand to succeed here. You mail her with project information and a start date and request her for comments. Since her default is no reply, you’ll get none, and you can get started on your project! You can always claim forgiveness later – it is so much more efficient than seeking permission. But be careful – if you do this too often, she may turn around the tables by creating an autoresponder mail saying “declined” for all your requests!
And finally, we come to my favourite – the Excel Oracle. For this type of boss, Excel is an Ojha board, and she can solve all of the world’s problems by putting in numbers and magic incantations (aka formulas) in its little cells. Her Excel model hasn’t passed your proposition and hence her non-reply. You cannot argue with her – she has 55,000 cells of data to prove you wrong. There’s only one thing you can do. You can volunteer to help with a weekend “save the world using excel” project. If she’s happy, she may gift you your project while she tries to coax her Excel sheets into acquiescing.
So there you have it – the secret of how to turn radio silence from your boss to a “yes”. If you are a boss, what’s your persona? I am a straight shooter – and yes, I have a wealth of jumbo-jumbo words that help me say “no” with a smile!