Can You Have That Done By Yesterday?

In my weekly department call this week, we each were asked to give our normal status updates and to also let the rest of the team know how they could support us. As each person took their turn, an obvious trend was beginning to develop.
“I’ve asked Adam to help with this.”
“I’ve asked Adam to help with that.”
“I’m going to send this to Adam.”
“I’m going to send that to Adam.”
When my turn rolled around, we all had a good laugh as we acknowledged the trend. But hey, it’s a sign that business is good and, well, my job appears to be secure for the foreseeable future.
Balancing all these priorities does pose some real challenges though. In order to best serve the needs of my the team, my support request was simply that they continue to try to provide as much lead time on task requests as possible. It would help to ensure that I’d have ample time to prioritize the tasks at hand and get them all completed on time.
As we all know, it’s inevitable that things will always come up at the last minute that require immediate attention. But let’s face it, there’s a reason for the negative connotation associated with the term, “rush job.” If you’re able to plan ahead and get a jump on a task, it’s best not to procrastinate so that the quality of the end product doesn’t suffer.
Providing adequate lead time is especially important when you’re delegating all or parts of a task to someone else. To the person on the receiving end, few things induce more work-related stress than being given a task with a deadline of yesterday (and you can crank that stress volume up to 11 if it’s known that the ultra-urgent request was avoidable if not for the delegator’s procrastination). This new priority inevitably causes the person to significantly rearrange their workload. It also potentially forces them to have difficult conversations with others who’s work has just been bumped down the priority list. Furthermore, if it’s a repeated behavior, it could have a detrimental impact on your relationship with that person (and/or the person who’s job you just leapfrogged). Always, always, always be mindful of the potential impact your actions, or delayed actions, may have on others.
And if you constantly find yourself on the receiving end of yesterday deadlines, don’t be afraid to give appropriate feedback. The person might not realize the impact they’re having and, hopefully, will be willing to partner with you to provide as much as possible, as early as possible. That said, I realize that others might not be as fortunate as I am to work with a supportive team of partners. If that’s you, then at least take comfort in the fact that your job appears to be secure for the foreseeable future.

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