Extracting, Processing, and Relaying Essential Information Only

Svetlana Polonsky

Head of Quality Engineering at Quicken



I joined an organization where a person at the top level wanted a daily report from me. It was difficult for me because I had just started and he wanted to know the details on all of the projects. I knew that my job was to extract information, process it, and then pass it along to those who need to make decisions, yet I found it painful because I knew that the information that I was giving him was not being acted upon. I thought it impossible to provide him with every detail of every project in every given state.

Actions taken

I had to reevaluate his expectations from me and his set of responsibilities. What exactly is it that he needed? What kind of problems did he need to solve for which he needs information from me? Based on these reflections I would only provide the necessary information. Sometimes it would be about a product. Other times it would be a very specific project on a product. I would occasionally inform him about a whole team.

Additionally, to know which information to provide, I would ask him to invite me to meetings that he was involved and where he used my information. This meant sitting in on the actual meeting or simply listening in silently on a telephone call. Further still, I would solicit feedback from higher level managers about what was discussed in those meetings so that I could easily understand the level of information he needed, what numbers he was looking for, and/or the progress and results of specific cases.

Lessons learned

  • If you feed your boss a lot of information, they are likely to get overwhelmed by it. Giving them an abundance of information will only inhibit how they will react to it. Too much and they won't be able to properly handle it all. Instead, give them a certain amount of information and be specific. That allows them to make their decision easier and helps them achieve their goals.
  • It's beneficial to you to inquire, investigate, and understand the type of information your manager is looking for. It could be as simple as knowing the status of a project- green, yellow, or orange. Seek out what they need to know and don't give them any other information so they don't have to think too much, because they already have to think a lot.

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Svetlana Polonsky

Head of Quality Engineering at Quicken

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyDecision MakingLeadership TrainingFeedback TechniquesCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionIndividual Contributor RolesLeadership Roles

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