How to Manage the Rush Jobs

by Ian McKenzie on July 29, 2014

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It’s 3:00 in the afternoon and your boss calls from the road and says, “Drop everything, I need this report in an hour.”

Fifteen minutes later another manager comes by looking for last-minute help with a PowerPointpresentation.

Meanwhile, you’ve skipped lunch, a courier is waiting on a delivery from you and the intern is hovering, looking for approval on the next step.

When urgent requests come in from various sources and you’re already pressed for time, how do you handle them?

Here’s four tips:

  1. Show how much is on your plate. Create a chart that shows the projects you are handling and the time required to complete them. It can be as complex as a Gantt chart or as simple as a pie chart.Another approach would be a two-column to-do list. Column one is tasks you’ve been asked to complete, column two is the task as you’re taking the action steps, scheduling them into your day.

    You then have a visual representation showing the trade-offs required to accommodate the demand for a rush job.

  2. Suggest work that can be traded-off. Conventional advice suggests placing the decision of priority back on the one requesting the rush job. “Here’s what I’m working on, you decide what is a priority for me.” That puts control of your workflow in somebody else’s hands.Instead, you make the suggestion as to what should be deferred to accommodate the job.  ”I suggest we move the deadline for the widget report to Wednesday. That way, I can complete your presentation today.”
  3. Point out any issues that might interfere with finishing a rush job. If you know you’re going to need information from Nancy and she’s in a meeting at a client’s office, let the requester know. This way you’re not left holding responsibility for not completing the task.

  4. Have a chart of common task times. Often, the boss will not know how long it took you to complete the rush job. You’re there until midnight, the boss went home at 5:00.

    Put together a list of tasks you commonly complete along with the time it takes to finish.For example: typing a 40-slide PowerPoint presentation: two hours, provided all the material is complete.The boss then has some idea what kind of time commitment  the request represents.

The boss, being the boss, may still go ahead and expect the rush job to be completed. However, this four-part strategy will help you gain control over those rush jobs.

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How to be an Effective Employee

by ianmckenzie on June 19, 2014

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Sometimes being an effective employee is easy and sometimes it’s not —work responsibilities and circumstances vary, as do relationships with co-workers. One thing is certain: your attitude makes a big difference in how successful you are at work.

A positive attitude is a requirement of all of the following tips for improving your chances of succeeding at work.

Communicate positively and co-operate with others

  • Be friendly, supportive and co-operative. Develop a reputation for being easy to work with.
  • Contribute to the team. Everyone appreciates it when you help others who are swamped with work.
  • Treat everyone as your equal. The Golden Rule applies. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Compliment others when they deserve praise.
  • Don’t discus anything you would not want repeated; especially personal weaknesses or those of co-workers.
  • Ask for help when needed. People don’t mind explaining or demonstrating tasks if it is obvious that you have already tried to work the problem out on your own.
  • Be a good communicator. Give people your undivided attention during discussions, let them finish what they are saying and make sure you understand what has been said before you respond.
  • Be aware of your body language. Communication problems arise when what you say doesn’t match what your body is communicating.
  • Never criticize people in public. When you give feedback, do it in private, in an objective, constructive manner that helps people understand what they should do differently instead of just making them feel bad.
  • Communicate in a relaxed, patient and pleasant manner. People respond much better to calm discussion than to anger, sarcasm or commands.

Look and act the part of a responsible worker

  • Dress appropriately for the job. Consider the type of work you are doing, how your co-workers dress and the company image.
  • Look and act confident. Speak calmly, clearly and loudly enough to be heard. Look at people when they speak to you. Try not to appear flustered when things get very busy or when you are doing something for the first time.
  • Keep your work area neat and clean.
  • Be productive. Be on time for work. Don’t take extra-long coffee breaks, look after private business while you are on the job, or spend excessive amounts of time socializing. Let your employer know if you are going to be unavoidably late or absent, and use sick leave only when you are sick.
  • Finish important tasks even if it means working through breaks or occasionally staying past quitting time.
  • Use your time wisely. Plan ahead and do the most important tasks first. Organize your workspace and concentrate on one thing at a time, if you can. Take advantage of quiet times to do things you can see need to be done.

Set high work standards

  • Do good quality work of an appropriate quantity. Meeting work standards, quotas and deadlines goes a long way toward earning the approval of your supervisors and encouraging customers and clients to come back.
  • Make sure you understand the instructions before you start work on a new task. If there is a chance you will forget, write the instructions down.
  • The first few times you perform a task, follow instructions precisely. Ask your supervisor to check if you are doing things right before potential mistakes become a problem.
  • Be thorough. Do your work as correctly and carefully as possible. Check your work before handing it over. Don’t hesitate to do a job over if you think it might be unsatisfactory.
  • Work at a steady pace. Be a person who always gets things done.
  • Learn the “tricks of the trade” from senior staff and be open to new ideas about how you can improve your work.
  • Take responsibility for completing your work. When you have finished one task, move on to the next activity without waiting to be told.

Positive attitudes toward work and the people at work will help you to get your work done effectively and creatively and establish relationships that are pleasant and co-operative.

From ALIS

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