One of the biggest delays in production and productivity is distraction.
In this particular case, we’re addressing distraction in the form of accepting work or tasks from others. I help my team with this and often deal with it by helping them to say ‘no’, but concomitantly think about how saying yes can benefit them.
Many people will think no is the answer, but in some cases it could be better to gain some clout and recognition in the work place by helping out.
Is ‘yes’ an option?
Before you think about saying no, think about if by saying yes how you can benefit from it. Too often we’re encouraged to say no, but there is more to be gained by saying yes. It opens the doors to recognition from peers, other department heads, respect in a certain subject matter and creating an ally in the workplace whilst gaining a favour.
At an initial glance it seems there’s more to gain by saying yes, but there’s a few factors to consider before taking on additional tasks.
A full comprehension of the task is a must.
You’ll need scope of the work involved. This requires understanding the total labour, finding out who else will be working on this, how long it will take and the expected outcomes.
When you can see alignment in your responsibilities then consider if this will be distracting from business unit goals.
But In the case where the answer is no, here is how I guide my team to respond to requests for help.
We’ve got deadlines and priorities that need to be met, manager’s expectations are high. This is typical of a busy worker and can’t afford any further workload otherwise they will risk missing project deadlines, operations targets and ultimately fall behind on their own obligations.
Being honest and transparent is a way to say you’re busy without saying no. Let them know what you have on and imply urgency by mentioning dates. It indicates that you don’t have immediate time and already occupied with an important task.
“I’ve got the XYZ project to complete by next week and the board is waiting for the report on this. Then I’ve also got to submit the performance report in the following week…”
Alternatively, if you are willing to help out but just not right now, you could give an
estimate of when you are able to help out.
“I’ve got the XYZ project to complete by next week and the board is waiting for the report on this, I could get around to helping you next month.”
Whichever way you let them know, it’s the transparency that gives objective reason to refuse or delay the helping them out. Not giving a reason will imply you’re simply not interested in helping, and this can do the opposite of creating an ally.
Be frank and honest.