What your boss needs to know
There is a saying that goes something like "make sure you know before your client knows". You could also equally say, "make sure your boss knows before your client knows".
Your boss is too busy to be concerned about the minutiae of your working day, but he (or she) will always need to be aware of top-level happenings and anything that has gone (or is about to go) wrong.
The four cardinal rules for dealing with bosses
- Never make them feel embarrassed, stupid or incompetent.
- Never put them in a position where they are ill-prepared.
- Never give them unwelcome surprises.
- Always, always, always communicate clearly, succinctly and regularly.
Through regular communication with your boss he will be able to advise you on the best course of action, and take proactive steps to mitigate fallout.
What your busy boss needs to know
Your boss needs to know the financial details.
As an Account Manager you are preparing financial documents and calculations constantly - all of which have an impact on your agency's bottom line.
Most agency revenue will be billed via the client service team, therefore it is your boss's responsibility to ensure all the financial outputs are accurate.
If you are aware of anything that could affect the accuracy of the figures you have supplied (either internally or externally) then your boss needs to know. This could include:
- Forecasting (monthly, quarterly, yearly). Have any circumstances changed?
- Budgets for campaigns or large projects (e.g. budget blowouts, low profit).
- Quoting that may be incorrect or not approved by your client.
- Calculations (e.g. costs, revenue, gross profit, mark-up, margin, ROI).
- Scope creep which starts to affect profit.
Often you will submit financial reports to your boss, and it is likely your boss will then make their financial reports to agency management or the Board of Directors. Your boss is relying on you to have all your figures as accurate as possible to make his own figures as accurate as possible. Remember Rule #1!
Your boss needs to know the big picture.
Along with financials it is also likely your boss will be required to submit a "management report". This is a top line overview of what is going on in his department - the wins, losses, significant issues and business development opportunities.
Your boss may require you to submit a management report outlining what is going on in your little corner of the world. He will then compile all feedback into one large report. This is another opportunity for you to (briefly) communicate what's been going on and to help make your boss look good!
Your boss needs to know as soon as a mistake has been made.
Everyone makes mistakes, it's a part of agency life. Some mistakes are tiny and rectifiable without alerting the masses. Other mistakes carry consequences - it is those which need to be flagged to your boss, as quickly as possible, and preferably before your client finds out.
It's hard to admit you've done something wrong, but just be honest, accept responsibility (and any consequences), rectify the situation, and learn as much as you can in the process.
Your boss needs to know that the day-to-day is ticking along like clockwork.
Hopefully your client service team gets together for regular WIP (Work-In-Progress) meetings. A WIP revue gives your boss a top-level understanding of all the projects in play and how they are going.
This is the ideal forum to discuss your projects, workload, clients and issues. Remember to keep your overview as brief as possible unless your boss wants to drill down into a particular matter.
Your boss needs to know that your client relationships are in good condition.
The lifeblood of Account Management comes from the quality of your agency/client relationship. Your boss will want to know how those relationships are faring - how often you contact your clients, how often you visit your clients, how you can make those relationships better and maximise revenue opportunities.
Your boss needs to know that you clearly understand what you are supposed to do.
If you are unsure of anything, then you need to ask. It is far better that you ask multiple questions and get the task right than to ask no questions and get it wrong (which could carry a hefty cost).
Your boss needs to know you are OK.
Are you enjoying your job? How are your stress levels? Are you struggling with anything? Are you feeling overworked, under-appreciated and ready to quit? What are your hopes, dreams and ambitions? If you don't let him know, he won't know, and nothing will change.
Your boss needs to know the good as well as the bad.
Agency bosses fight a lot of fires, and so it's a welcome change to hear some good news. Perhaps you've secured a new piece of business, or that your notoriously-fickle client has signed on for a large web development project. Maybe you turned around a potentially disastrous situation and now have a happy client. Do let your boss know your wins - it'll make his day!
How should you update your boss?
Just like figuring out how your clients "tick", you'll need to figure out how your boss "ticks" to discover what type of communication method and frequency they prefer.
- Is he the chatty type who likes random updates throughout the day, or would he prefer a more formal approach?
- Is he more of a "pop it in an email" or a "tell me in person" communicator?
- Does he have a "open door" policy, or do you have to pick your moments carefully?
Once you have a good communication system and rapport established with your boss, it will make your life a whole lot easier. It will benefit you in the "now" and set you up well for the future.
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