It’s 1030pm. I was promised three major artifacts that would allow me to move forward with three different projects by three different people â€¦. Tonight.
My inbox? Empty.
So my three cards sit on the board â€¦ blocked. In fact, my blocked cards often outweighÂ my entire backlog.
Is there ever a task or project that isnâ€™t interconnected and requires collaboration with somebody? Limiting your own WIP is certainly a fabulous step to managing workflow and increasing effectiveness; however, it makes you hyper aware of how other people youâ€™re working with still have an overloaded WIP.
I have no right to stand on a soap box because I have been one of those people so â€¦ many â€¦ times. Just because Iâ€™ve started to make some tough decisions this past year on not overwhelming myself does not put me in the position to judge. However, I do admit to frustration that the reliability behind â€œIâ€™ll get XYZ to you on ABC dateâ€ is that I probably wonâ€™t get it.
Snarling at any individual already overloaded and not delivering is comparable to screaming a kid to hurry up and finish a stressful test, and then being confused when they start sobbing or make mistakes or experience emotional unsafety â€¦ OR, all of those. Yet, how many times have we sent that lovely little passive aggressive nasty gram?
Be clear on what you need and WHY you need it by XYZ date.
I am finding that ambiguous â€œhereâ€™s this fileâ€ is exhausting. So what? Do you want my feedback? What kind of feedback? There are so many interpretations. However, taking the time to be specific, such as â€œwould you please verify that this file presents the model correctly that you discussed in todayâ€™s meetingâ€ will get much faster service.
If it is time-consuming or will involve more people, explaining why you need it returned will help give the context for them to prioritize well. Letâ€™s just throw away â€œsometime this weekâ€ entirely, but even â€œI need this by Fridayâ€ doesnâ€™t particularly motivate. However, â€œIâ€™ve been asked by the VP to present this model on Monday and I really want to make sure that I have a firm grasp on it over the weekendâ€ actually gets me excited about delivering it as soon as possible.
Itâ€™s rarely â€¦ and I mean RARELY, the person.
So letâ€™s not get mad at the person. Any time you pass judgment on somebody else, think of three times where you did the same thing. Seriously.
Something Iâ€™ve been working on is focusing on the issue, not the person. Frankly, their overwhelmed WIP is none of my business. What I need done and what I need their help on IS my business. So if being frank about what you need and why isnâ€™t getting you the results you need, simply have a conversation. Iâ€™m finding that these conversations have results that arenâ€™t exactly what I had requested, but serve me much better. Why? In my opinion, it is because Iâ€™m collaborating on an issue rather than growling about a task.
So yes, we will be blocked by other peopleâ€™s overwhelmed WIP often. However, being human will clear your blocked tasks more quickly than passive deadline threats and even get you better outcomes.
Crossposted at LinkedIn.