Last month I wrote about three ways to be wildly effective when requesting resources from the Board or C-suite. After reviewing the comments and emails I received in response, it’s clear that there are many great techniques that you can employ to obtain resources from the Board or C-suite. Here are three more wildly effective ways to ask for resources.
Utilize a “Choice of Yes” Pattern
When you are presenting your options, assume that the answer will be yes. Author Alan Weiss describes this pattern as a “choice of yesses.” Instead of presenting a yes/no possibility, you should state that the Board or C-suite can “choose which of these options works best for the company.” This language assumes that one of the options will be chosen, which instinctively tells the people evaluating the decision that their job is to pick one of the options. It is much less likely that the Board or C-suite will say “no” when they are presented with a “choice of yesses.”
When you present to the decision-makers, lead with the request for the resources that you want most, but be prepared with a higher cost option and a lower cost option. If the Board or C-suite questions whether the resource is really necessary, be prepared to show a cheaper and a more expensive option. Being prepared with a choice of options will show the Board two things. First, you’ll show you’ve done your research and thought about what you need. But more importantly, the Board or C-suite will feel that they have a choice which will make them feel empowered.
Use Fear, but Follow Up With Specific Actions
Using stories that evoke fear in the Board or C-suite can be very effective in helping them to understand your need for greater resources. Be sure to explain what can happen if the resources aren’t granted. Once you’ve set the scene with the potentially catastrophic outcomes, give the Board or C-suite your solution so they can agree to it. The commonly used platitude “don’t shoot the messenger” may apply to you if you tell the Board or C-Suite that they are in a precarious situation. They may turn their anger or worry on you. However, if you provide a plan that will resolve the worrisome situation, the Board is likely to approve plan and therefore the request for more resources which will allow you solve the problem.
Studies have shown that some people learn in an auditory way and others learn visually. If possible, bring visual aids to your presentation. When people are using more than one of their senses, they are much more likely to become engaged. If you are presenting in both a visual and audio way, you are more likely to get the attention of your audience.
For example, I was consulting with a client who was implementing SDN screening software. He wanted to purchase the vendor’s add-on service which would evaluate and eliminate the vast majority of false positive hits before the client’s compliance team had to deal with them. This solution cost several thousand dollars a year, but my client knew that his team’s time was better spent on other work.
To demonstrate the value of the false positive clearing service, my client included three slides in his presentation to show the false positives in a simplistic format. My client said to the Board, “OK, let’s say you’re receiving the report. It says that our customer Jorge Garcia Sanchez may be a match to someone on the sanctions list. Look at the match, can you see why our customer isn’t the same person?” The Board members immediately saw on the slide that their customer Jorge Garcia Sanchez lives in Spain, while the Jorge Garcia Sanchez on the sanctions list lives in Mexico. After going through three examples of this exercise with the Board, my client said, “We can eliminate this waste of time by having my team review only potential true matches.” My client received approval for the service.
Because the Board had engaged in a simplified version of the activity, they could tell that the solution was necessary and made business sense. The engagement with the visual made all the difference in their understanding of the problem and the necessity of the solution.
Putting it Together
Using all of the previous techniques together can make it more likely than not that your request for greater resources will be approved. Helping the Board or C-suite to understand the problem via storytelling and offering solutions in a way that is likely to obtain a positive response will go a long way to making you highly effective in your job and to having the resources you need to deal with the challenges of an ever-changing regulatory environment.