What's the best way to handle when a senior executive shows up at a scheduled meeting, states he's attending this meeting and would like to go first with his piece of information and input.  He's not on the attendee list or even cares about the agenda content.

Is it appropriate to politely excuse oneself and return when he has finished "his" agenda as I have not prepared for his surprise drive by and potential questions?



donm's picture
Training Badge

No. It is not appropriate to excuse yourself. You're in his room. You're on his time. You're answering to his requests.

After the meeting, you can politely and without rancor ask him to let you know in advance if he wants some of the meeting time so you can adjust the agenda accordingly. Whatever his answer, say, "Thank you" and go about your job. What he did was not right, but it's not your place to correct your boss.

delete_account_per_reacher_145083_dtiller's picture
Training Badge

I am not sure that I understand your issue.  Are you saying that a senior executive, higher than you, has arrived unannounced and asked for time with your team to deliver a message and you want to know if it's ok to duck out? 

Why would you not want to stay and hear the message?  Also, if he has questions, are you trying to avoid and only want to answer questions when a notice period is included? 

I'm probably being too harsh here but seems to me this is a one off and you go with it, be polite, answer to the best of your ability and move on with your day.  If this is your staff meeting, there is always next week or if this is a project meeteing that was overtaken then reschedule at a later time.

Would love to hear what I am missing.


SouthernDad's picture

I've had this happen to me.  I agree with DONM's assessment.  I used the same approach.  Later the same day, I spoke with the executive.  I told him that I understood his need to share the news with my department but would appreciate a heads up, whether by email or phone so that WE could be on the same sheet of music.  He quickly agreed with me, apologized and it has never happened again.

Earlier in my career, I would pop in to lower managers while they were meeting with their subordinates.  I got the wrong impression of my managers from doing this.  They were unprepared for my arrival and worse for me to take over the meeting.  It would make them nervous and disrupt their meeting.  Not one manager ever mentioned it to me.  They just continued on as if all was fine.  Now I never show up without a heads up message.