Are you the eager employee who volunteers for everything that comes your way in an attempt to advance within your organization? What is your confidence level when your boss or your boss’s boss gives you an assignment when your plate is full? I remember working for an individual who was driving me hard. I made every effort to keep my tasks organized, so I maintained a spreadsheet. I had a column that noted all of my deadlines. Some were manager-assigned,
while many were self-initiated, aggressive dates to work toward. I wanted to do everything possible to push myself and prove my worth. One day, I was providing an update to my manager, so I showed him the spreadsheet. Although thirty-seven of the forty items were on pace to be achieved on time, he focused on the three that were past due. The three that were past due were my own deadlines missed. Unfortunately, he held them over my head for quite some time.
I learned a valuable lesson that day: We must be realistic with our timeframes, regardless of how badly we want to meet them. We should continue to drive our work and not sandbag our deliverables, but we must balance it with everything we’re doing. In our efforts to be “gogetters,” we may actually be casting a negative shadow if we don’t accomplish everything we said we would by the given timeframes.
Think back to the times when you were a go-getter and found some commitments not being fulfilled. Effective immediately, I want you to begin to under-promise and over-deliver. You shouldn’t tell the boss that it will be done by five o’clock p.m. because you hope it will be done. You should tell the boss when you know it will be done. If five p.m. isn’t the right timing, you should be honest and tell the boss when the realistic right time is, or invest time to reprioritize other tasks. If you haven’t established a strong enough relationship to do this, you may want to begin to build the trust and respect required to have those prioritization discussions. By under-promising and overdelivering, you’ll start to find appropriate times to hand work in early, beat deadlines, and often times start taking on more responsibilities. It’s ironic how easy it is to stop being a go-getter and actually go out and get more done when you are real with your deadlines.
Thomas B. Dowd III’s books available in softcover, eBook, and audiobook (From Fear to Success only):
- Down the Chute: A Toboggan Tale (children’s book)
- Now What? The Ultimate Graduation Gift for Professional Success
- Time Management Manifesto: Expert Strategies to Create an Effective Work/Life Balance
- Displacement Day: When My Job was Looking for a Job…A Reference Guide to Finding Work
- The Transformation of a Doubting Thomas: Growing from a Cynic to a Professional in the Corporate World
- From Fear to Success: A Practical Public-speaking Guide received the Gold Medal at the 2013 Axiom Business Book Awards in Business Reference
- The Unofficial Guide to Fatherhood