Here it comes – the first time you’re face to face with the management team at your workplace. It can be a nerve-racking experience, but your best bet is to prepare as much as you can ahead of time. Here are a few tips for success.
Find out what you’ll cover.
There’s no real way to prepare unless you know what the meeting is going to be about. After all, a meeting that reviews your performance over the past quarter is going to be far different than a meeting that covers your suggestions for improving your department, or a meeting that involves a large group who will get to pose general questions to the often-absent CEO. Thus, ask the person who called you to the meeting what you can expect to cover during said meeting.
If the person is vague and you’re the only one who’s been called into the meeting, consider yourself singled out, for good or bad, and expect to discuss your performance or your role in the company. To prepare, make a list of your accomplishments, and think about your shortcomings and what steps you might take to overcome them. If you’re new to the company, come prepared with some ideas about how you plan to contribute to the team.
If the meeting is more of a town-hall type in which you’ll get to pose general questions to management, think of a few things you’ve been wanting to know, but don’t ask anything controversial in that public setting. Doing so might put your management team on the spot or peg you as a rabble-rouser.
If you’re given next to no information, see what you can find out among your co-workers. It pays to have a few trusted co-workers among the staff so you can keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening around the office – as well as finding out things that may have transpired before your arrival.
Learn about the players.
If your management team is somewhat removed from your day-to-day work, you’ll have to do some digging to find out who you’re meeting with, their likes and dislikes, and any idiosyncrasies or insider information that can help you. Once again, poll your co-workers for information about the management styles of each person attending the meeting. Also check the managers out on LinkedIn to find out more about their backgrounds. Knowing that one of the vice presidents belonged to the same fraternity or that the CEO is an alumnus of the same school as you can help you build rapport at the right moment.
Dress to impress.
Whatever type of meeting you’re in for, this is your first opportunity for some face-time with your managers, and the little things do matter. Even if you normally wear a uniform to work, take special care with your appearance on the day of the meeting. Iron your pants and bleach your uniform shirt, for example. If you’re more of the business suit-type, wear your best suit. Appearances matter every day, but it holds special importance when you’re having a meeting as important as this.
Throw out some ideas.
Even if the meeting is intended to be relatively benign, it never hurts to come prepared with a few ideas for improving your workplace. In the event that your bosses ask you – even off-handedly – about your ideas, you’ll have something thoughtful to say, and that can make you look more committed and invested. That’s a good thing.
Your first meeting with management can be a nerve-racking experience, but by looking good and making some notes about your performance, the company’s direction or how to improve things, you’ll be on your way toward making a good impression.
Image courtesy David Wall via Flickr