Really good question, Jan.  I've learned to adapt to each of my
supervisor's needs differently.  Some of my bosses have been unfamiliar
with statistical information, so they want it easy to read.  My current
boss is at least as statistically savvy as I am and asks harder
questions, so I know I can run more sophisticated statistical
comparisons and such and he will digest it easily.  

But after having five bosses in this job, I've learned that one of the
primary reasons higher ups don't read is time.  I am one of over 30
direct reports in my boss' area and I've learned how to efficiently
present info.

As my email will attest, I tend to be pretty verbose.  When I write a
fairly long or in-depth analysis or evaluation of our services, I also
include an executive summary, which is a quicker read, usually one page
of bullet points.  I include in it those things that I would like my
supervisor to be able to share with his higher ups if and when he is
asked, as well as things I think it is important for him to know.  I
often include memorable anecdotal points to illustrate what I want him
to remember.  For example, a summary of positive comments students have
written on their evaluations of our services.  

 If I feel what I am sending is important but lengthy or complex, I
will also schedule a 30 minute meeting with him in which I spend some
time going over the info rather than just send it over there to his
mounting in box....again, he then has it at his fingertips if he needs
it.  He respects that I'm not going to waste his time, and I provide
info that may answer questions that will be raised in meetings he will
be attending, or to dispute negative assumptions that have been rolling
around the area.  

These meetings also are a good way for me to find out what else he is
curious about or interested in.  When I can, I return to my office and
run additional reports to answer his questions and send them back ASAP. 
Or sometimes, it gives me time to consider other data that might be
necessary for us to collect or collect in a different way.  A few years
ago, for example, I was asked what percentage of our students were
living off campus.  We modified the way we collected address data to get
at those kinds of questions.

Oh, I also use bar graphs and pie charts a lot rather than just listing
numbers.  You can get the gist of the information far quicker from a
visual then having to digest an entire table to find what you need.   I
have found that those who are a bit math-phobic can still understand the
data when it is presented this way.  And sometimes the results on a
graph are far more dramatic looking than any table will ever be.  Power
point in particular is extremely simple to use for generating these
attractively and quickly.  

Once I set up the Power point show including certain report info, I
keep one copy as a longitudinal one in which I add data from each year. 
This way, I can do a very quick comparison of two or more years on the
same data. (Bosses love that question, "how does this compare to last
year?")   Longitudinal data is extremely effective in showing success
over time as well.  

Like I said, I tend to be verbose.  Hope this helps.

Shevawn Eaton, Ph.D.
Director, ACCESS/ESP
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115
PH: (815) 753-0581

FAX: (815) 753-4115

>>> [log in to unmask] 06/26/06 11:01 AM >>>
Roberta makes an excellent point about how much we know about our
services and how little time many supervisors spend reviewing our
reports.  Does anyone have some suggestions for increasing
administrative interest in learning center reports?

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