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6 Tips: How to Speak C-Suite

The IT social network Spiceworks recently reported that 87% of its participants were turned down for tech funding requests and that 64% had absolutely no input into their company’s expense planning process. As an IT manager, isn’t it about time you learned to speak “boss?” An InformationWeek article by Kevin Casey offers six tips for fluency with the C-Suite.

6 Language Lessons for IT

  1. Bosses have bosses.
  2. Dispense with “bits and bytes.”
  3. Speak in terms of goals.
  4. Speak in terms of risk.
  5. Paint an ROI “picture.”
  6. Think like an owner.

The first step is to remember that bosses have bosses too. Once you can understand what kind of expectations investors, CEOs, and other constituents have of the CFO, you can better understand what expectations the CFO has of you. The next step is to start communicating with the C-Suite, not in “the language of bits and bytes,” but from the perspective of the executives themselves. Find out how they measure a “good year” and find out what you can do as an IT professional to align with these goals. Use corporate metrics and keywords to express your IT strategy.

An alternative strategy involves a good deal of pessimism. That’s right; if speaking in terms of business goals isn’t working, you may try the language or risk:

What happens to employee productivity, website transactions or other business currencies if that server or this application fails?…If Active Directory goes down, here’s how many employee hours would be lost.

Another useful strategy is to “paint the ROI picture” for business leaders. Line up the dots, but make them do the connecting. If the revelation or epiphany comes from the exec themselves, they’ll be far more amenable to your cause. Lastly, if you want to influence a business owner, you’ve got to think like a business owner. Don’t be afraid to step out of your network to see the bigger picture. It may be intimidating at first, but if you approach your higher-ups in a spirit of humble service, you’re likely to meet with a congenial, if not willing, reception.

Read the original article at:

About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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