Updating bosses, so it’s valuable, interesting and short

14th June 2022

Updating your boss is important.

But it’s hard to get it right. Tell them too much, and it wastes their time. Tell them too little, and it’s… well, too little.

So, here are some simple ways to update them – so you say the right info, in the right way, to impress and influence them quickly.

#1 Ask what they want

The best, simplest way to give them the info they want?

Ask them what info they want!

So ask them in advance of your update what they want you to talk about.

If they give you useful guidance, use that.

If they don’t, suggest to them you use #2’s layout below, and ask if that gives them what they need.

Why it works: it’s much better to confirm your content before you start, rather than guessing, getting it wrong and then everyone having a dreadful time.

#2 The right layout

Of all the update structures I’ve seen – and that is a lot! – this one is the most popular and effective. Create a five column table:

  1. Your priorities – in the left column, list your boss’s main priorities. Put their top one in the top row; their second in the second; etc (Example: your priority = increase market growth)
  2. Our actions – update your boss with the main action(s) you’ve done to achieve each priority (Example: we re-wrote our website’s home page)
  3. Our outcomes – for each action, state the outcome you achieved from doing it (Example: our new home page meant we got 50,000 new website visits this month)
  4. Next action – for each priority, list the next key action(s) you’ll do, to continue to achieve it. (Example: next month we are doing X and Y)
  5. Reference – detail where they can read extra info on each point (Example: new webpage info on slides 3-6)

Why it works: Column 1 shows what they’re most interested in. Columns 2 and 3 show what you’ve done to achieve these priorities, and the outcomes you got from doing it. Column 4 explains what’s happening next. And Column 5 helps you jump straight to the things they’re most interested in – see next point.

#3 The right delivery

In your update, after you’ve shared #2’s table with them, ask which topic they’d like to discuss first. And then jump straight to that part.

Why it works: you’re going straight to their main priorities, rather than dragging them through your presentation in the order you wrote it. Much better for their engagement, and your confidence.

Action Point

Next time you update your bosses, do #1 – #3 above. More useful for them. More kudos for you. Everyone wins. This link will help too.

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