Leverage meetings and reporting

Ask for access to the boss’s calendar, and take note of regular key meetings and reporting dates. His or her PA can help with ad hoc or irregular dates, and decoding what each meeting is. If your boss isn’t terribly well organised, ask to be invited to anything that looks pertinent. Don’t miss key meetings because you were waiting to be invited.

Take the initiative to set up regular review meetings with your boss at an interval to suit you. Meetings every fortnight are a realistic minimum if you are in a new environment, but monthly may be sufficient after the first few months. Less frequently and there is a risk that changes in emphasis made at levels above you may fail to filter down to you and your team, leaving you exposed as out of touch.

Never go into a 1:1 meeting with your boss without an agenda – it might even be worth cancelling or rescheduling if you haven’t prepared, because in many environments wasting valuable meeting time can damage your credibility.

Time pressure can mean your hour’s meeting becomes 30 minutes, or 15, or 5, and this may happen frequently. For this reason, have a strictly prioritised list, and check at the start of the meeting how much time you really have. Sometimes exceedingly short meetings are very productive if their purpose is to prioritise or delegate, but if your 1:1s keep getting curtailed, and you can’t get something started or progressed, call a separate meeting with an important-sounding title and, if possible, invite someone your boss won’t want to cancel a meeting with!

If there is a standard format and frequency of reporting, make sure you have this, and a thorough understanding of who gets these reports, when they have to be in and what they are intended to achieve. If reports don’t optimise the influence of your work and your team, work to make them do so by drawing links to key projects and objectives within your and other management lines.