Set Your Urgency Level on Facts
My title was Director of Project Managment. My job was to make sure that the clientÃ¢â¬â¢s needs were met as product was built. I was also responsible for strategy, budget, schedule, and all project issues.
My production manager was a bit of a pain. He was young. He was focused on personal recognition. He wanted to be KING.
I was no piece of cake either. I was young. I had no aspirations for territory, but I was focused on being SUPER MANAGER, DOER OF THE IMPOSSIBLE.
One day the production manager, Larry, stopped by my office. He said that he needed a particular something by 2 p.m. tomorrow, because it was due to the printer. I had about 800,972 other priorities that were equally urgent, but being SUPER MANAGER, DOER OF THE IMPOSSIBLE, I agreed to the deadline. I could find a few minutes between 2 and 3 a.m. when I might fit in reviewing it. Then I would have to send it over to be corrected and proofed. Then I would get it back again in time to check it before I handed it off to Larry. It could be done, but it would take keeping a close eye on.
I made it happen. In fact, I got it to LarryÃ¢â¬â¢s desk at 1p.m. He wasnÃ¢â¬â¢t there. I asked the woman at the next desk when Larry was due back from lunch. She said, Ã¢â¬ÅOh, he left at 11 and heÃ¢â¬â¢s not coming back until Monday. HeÃ¢â¬â¢s on vacationÃ¢â¬âextra long weekend. DidnÃ¢â¬â¢t he tell you?Ã¢â¬Â
I couldnÃ¢â¬â¢t believe it! He told me he desparately needed it by 2p.m., and then he was gone!. In that split second, I made my mind up never to blindly buy into someone elseÃ¢â¬â¢s sense of urgency again.
What to Do When Someone Is Urgent
These days when someone says, Ã¢â¬ÅI need this by . . . ,Ã¢â¬Â I follow a set 3-step routine.
- I pick up a pencil and prepare to write.
- Then I ask, Ã¢â¬ÅWhen will you actually be able to work on this again?Ã¢â¬Â That always makes the person stop to consider the date IÃ¢â¬â¢ve just been given. The usual response is something like, Ã¢â¬ÅWell, now that you mention it, . . .Ã¢â¬Â
- At the point a new date is offered, I write down that date, the project, and the person’s name in very large handwriting, so the person sees me doing it. No words are necessary.
Just three simple steps help me find where to place my own sense of urgency so that I know when I’m urgent I am urgently moving things that will keep on moving.
I don’t get frustrated anymore by a false sense of urgency. Oh yeah and I gave up trying to be SUPER MANAGER, DOER OF THE IMPOSSIBLE in favor of trying to be MANAGER WITH A HEART WHO BELIEVES IN QUALITY a year or two after that.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
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