Being great in at your job or role can be a funny thing. As a person’s expertise improves at performing in a role their reputation also tends to grow, which is both a good and bad thing. Its good from the standpoint having a good reputation can aid in being promoted, receiving higher bonuses, increased visibility from senior leaders, etc. On the other hand it may be bad from the standpoint that additional people besides your manager will ask you to assist or participate on various projects. While some of the additional tasks/projects will help you grow in your profession many of the additional tasks people will ask you to do will simply just divide your time across multiple projects thus delaying your ability deliver on key items. So, before saying yes, please read on.
To avoid having your time constantly divided one must master the use of the word “NO”. Before saying yes – instead saying no allows you to continue focus on your core goals, objectives and responsibilities (note: These items are probably listed in your annual commitment list and you will be reviewed on them). There will be occasions when one may want to say yes to an added task or stretch project because you have the bandwidth, the team really needs the help, it could be a request from a senior leader, etc. Before you say yes to accepting a new project one should ask the following questions to gain clarity about the project and its impact on your time.
7 Project Clarification Questions
- What is the core business problem you are trying to solve? (Note: This is a key question because if they don’t know what the real business problem is, how will you know if you have solved the real problem.)
- What has already been done to resolve this issue?
- How soon do you need this task or project to be completed?
- What are the key drivers of this task?
- Who is currently impacted by this issue?
- What is the estimated amount of time required to solve this issue?
- To solve this problem who else should be included in the decision making process?
After gaining clarification on the issue and you feel that you have the time to assist in the project it would be wise to tell the person requesting the assistance “Before I agree to work on this issue let me first check with my manager to discuss how this will align with my current set of priorities”. Keeping your manager in the loop regarding outside projects you are working on is good for three reasons. The first reason letting your manager know upfront will prevent them hearing about the project from a third party which may negatively impact the relationship you have with your manager. Secondly managers are reviewed on how well their team performs and they need to be aware of activities that may impact their team’s performance. Lastly your manager may be able to provide some additional insight and guidance that will save you time and effort.
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