A great fear of managers and executives is that some day they will get a very unpleasant surprise. That's one reason why keeping your boss well-briefed is important and why delaying the reporting of bad news can be fatal.
But let's consider the other side of the spectrum and think of ways in which something extra can create a lasting positive impression. For example, a top executive who is going to meet with a community group may be given some rough idea of the group's concerns and then be expected to wing it. On the other hand, an associate may provide information such as:
- A brief history of the group
- The names of the group's leaders, both formal and informal
- Whether any one person can really speak for the group
- Whether the executive has ever met any of those leaders
- How the group perceives the executive's organization
- What the group says it wants
- What the group really wants
- Whether the group has any hot buttons
- What the group definitely does not want
- What it expects from the meeting
- Any time-sensitive matters
- Some reasonable strategies for dealing with the group
- What the executive's side can gain from the meeting
- How the meeting is likely to proceed, and
- What the next step may be.
Absolutely necessary? Probably not. Very helpful? You bet. And it would most likely be a pleasant surprise.
Pleasant surprises frequently stem from things that didn't need to be done, but were, and from potential problems that were identified, then removed or reduced.
Look around. We are circled by potential pleasant surprises. Let's surprise someone.