I’m the Boss, Get it Done
How many of us have worked for a boss that didn’t seem to care how much was already on your plate? Rather, maybe they just didn’t think to ask. Now that you’re in their position, the “I’m the boss, get it done” mentality certainly isn’t how you operate. At least it’s not your intention. Though, and think hard about this, when was the last time you made a request and asked “What’s the cost?” Been a while, or maybe never? Tsk, tsk! More likely than not, you have people on your team that will try to make it all happen, when the reality is, they can’t. Asking what the cost is should be a best practice for you as a manager.
The Cost of New Requests
Often times, when we make a request of our team, we don’t have a full inventory of what’s already going on. We are concerned with our individual timelines, and forget that for every person on our team, there’s a litany of items that are in the process of being completed. Because of that, it only makes sense that you, as a manager, need to understand the true cost of any new request you make.
SLOW DOWN TO ASK “WHAT’S THE COST?” AND ADJUST ACCORDINGLY!
If you’re relatively organized or aware of your team, you may have some sense of who has what project and the time you think it will/should take. That’s great, and all managers should have some sense of that, but it’s not enough. To truly take inventory or your team’s resources and availability, you should probably ask them!
That seems so obvious, it hurts; you’d be surprised how many managers just don’t do it. They don’t ask, they don’t inquire, but they act shocked when their team under delivers or doesn’t deliver at all. Making a new request might mean that someone has to juggle too much to keep up. When that happens, they inevitably drop something, and in their scramble to pick it back up, 2 or 3 more things also get dropped. As you can imagine, this begins a vicious cycle of constantly dropping and picking up things. Their perfect balance was thrown off by one ball, which you so “graciously” chucked their way. Enough of that, and the true cost of that request is a dissatisfied, unhappy, potentially disengaged employee. We already know disengaged employees cost money. And we also know they leave. Neither of those reflect well on you, and, in most cases, probably wasn’t your intention.
Just remember, you DON’T have an infinite amount of resources, DON’T act like it, and DON’T be surprised when your team can’t deliver if you do.
Now That I’ve Told You Don’t, Here is What You Do
As mentioned previously, taking a true inventory of the resources available on your team is the best way to discover how much your new request will cost. Once you figure out how much that cost is, you need to assess whether the request is necessary. If it is, can it be outsourced to another team? Or, maybe, even to you? If not, based on your inventory (the one you got from actually asking your team), are there other things that aren’t so important you can shift around to make room for the new request?
Trade Tip: Part of making the request is to ask what the cost is, what has to shift to make it happen. Listen to the answer, then decide as the leader what things should shift and what things can’t. Nothing is impossible – chances are you can figure something out that doesn’t tax your resources and accomplishes what you need!
- DO ask your team how they’re allocating their time
- DO stop to ask “What’s the cost?”
- DO create an inventory of who is doing what and the timelines they are running on
- DO assess how important the new request is against the current allocation of resources
- DO restructure the current job duties if it makes sense
- DO investigate other methods of completion should your team be overtaxed already
- DO consider yourself as a possible solution
- DO thank your team for everything they do – after all they make you look good
Let’s get a conversation started: does your leader understand the cost of their requests? If not, how does that affect you? Your team? If so, what skills/tactics do they use to assess cost? Are they effective?