What are two of the most intimidating discussions you’ll ever have with your Aviation Reporting Executive (ARE)? Likely they are 1) justifying headcount and 2) justifying operating budgets. Those two talks are never fun. Something about spending corporate money brings out the miser in most!
So how do you convince your ARE to allocate the resources that you need to successfully fulfill the mission-desired service levels of the aviation department? How do you get your boss to see that what you are proposing is in the Company’s best interest and that you are not going on a spending spree? How do you ask the ARE – as profoundly as Jerry McGuire begged his Cardinals Football client- to “help me help you!”
First of all, know that getting to YES starts with some NOs.
- No, you don’t have to be a born salesperson to get to YES. Anyone can get their boss to YES.
- No, you cannot come in cold. The decision maker should feel like they know you and trust you already before you step into the room.
- No, you mustn’t be unprepared. You have to know your subject and anticipate any pushback and be prepared for it! For instance, do you have the prior years’ budgets or staffing levels in hand before you broach the topic of next year’s headcount or operating budgets?
- No, you ought not to have these conversations on the fly. On the aircraft. On the ramp. At the foot of the aircraft stairs. In the parking lot. Make an appointment for a sit-down session and provide the information ahead of your meeting. And plan to keep it brief. Keep it short and specific and drive decidedly to the goal.
No, you don’t have to accept defeat. Often, you’ll get a first test of your commitment when you hear a NO from the boss. That’s when you don’t panic. You pivot. Seek to gain agreement on assumptions which are rock solid and then turn back to the budget you’re proposing – which is a direct product of those agreed assumptions.
Now for some Yes’s.
- You can do this with confidence. Just put yourself in the ARE’s shoes. And remember: Effective communications with your principal starts with these five letters. WIIFM. What’s In It for Me.
- What does the ARE need to know to do his/her job right? Why will he/she care? Think of all the benefits to bring up, in priority order.
- What’s that priority order? What he/she cares most about!
- Building an effective business case is a matter of preparation. With some metrics in your manila folder, you can prove, quantitatively, that business aviation will be an even greater value creator for the company in the coming budget year.
- You can ask questions. “Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers,” said Voltaire. Prepare those probing questions in advance. Thought provoking and pertinent ones may just bring the ARE over to your side.
- You must include your people. Since assumptions for headcount and operating budgets are the heart of the matter, include your entire aviation team in getting the boss to YES. Develop, in writing, the operational assumptions for the coming year – such as: number of aircraft, flight hours, travel days, aircraft inspections, training needs, etc. Once you get the ARE to agree on the assumptions, the budget is just a math exercise. Impersonal. Straight-forward. Inevitable.
- Get those assumptions and the proposed budget to the ARE ahead of time. If he/she has time to review, you can get to their concerns quicker and address them efficiently in the meeting.
- Have a fallback position. Be prepared with a ‘minimum,’ a ‘baseline,’ and an ‘aggressive’ investment level. That way you walk away with something tangible and actionable. And a clear direction forward.
In summary, getting your boss to YES is something every flight department has to face and accomplish. How well you “Manage Up” is a matter of preparation, involving the team, developing assumptions, sticking to the facts and having the metrics to support your proposal. Remember in math class when you had to prove the theorems and postulates? Show your work to the boss succinctly, unemotionally and with a sure vision to success and he/she will just have to say YES!
If you are having any difficulty in opening the ARE’s door and walking in with confidence to address headcount and/or budgeting issues – call us. We can help you gain respect from the ARE and serve his/her needs readily. Call Jim Lara at 1-865-357-5077 for a confidential and purposeful discussion.