During my first years as a Project Manager, I often faced this problem: how to work with senior executives. It became frustrating at times, since I was puting a lot of work but I was unable to capitalize on it without the needed decisions from top managers. Plus, I was having a hard time figuring out what I did wrong.
Here are some wrongs I can identify in perspective, being quite a busy manager myself these days. Some are mentioned in Kerzner's Project Management book and they are all somehow unconventional:
- being humble in front of a senior manager is wrong; it shows you don't trust yourself enough, so how could she?
- trying to put things in their context and give a complete view of the picture is wrong; consider how little time these people have to spend with you and start with your request. Have 3 clear arguments, just in case they ask, as to why is it beneficial for them to do as you require. Again, more then 3 arguments is too much for a busy, multitasking manager;
- waiting for the senior manager to come with a solution or an action plan for your dilemma is very unlikely to give any results. It is best to come with a clear opinion on what's best and have her agree with you; or the decision will be slow/won't be the best for your project. Only one person has the information required to make the best decision in a project, and that person is the Project Manager.
- showing with problems that you didn't discussed first with their directs is wrong; it shows you have little respect for their time;
- being temperamental/arguing/emotional in front of her shows little control on your own person or the situation. I am not suggesting it is wrong to disagree with her, just put it in the most assertive way.