We’ve all been there. It’s 4:30 p.m. on Thursday when the boss pops in with his hair on fire and hits you with a massive project that’s due by end of day on Friday.
Realistically, you needed at least a week to do it justice, maybe two.
As he runs you through the project details, you’re thinking, “Man, if he would have just given me more time, I could really rock on this one. I guess I’ll have to throw down another one.” Or, “24 hour turn around! Seriously? On a project this size? I hate it when he does this. Does he think I can do miracles?”
Unfortunately, this is an all too familiar scene in the communications world.
So, what can be done to avoid this in the future? A few suggestions:
Anticipate what’s coming and do something about it. Sure, some projects are completely random and jump up and slap you in the face with absolutely no warning. I know you can’t read minds, but more often than not, discussions about a project swirl around you even though no official decisions have been made about them. Keep your ear to the ground and insert yourself (tactfully, of course) into conversations that may end up at your doorstep anyway. Not only can you potentially influence their time line, but you might even be able to shape their outcome and make them much, much better.
Think and work ahead as you monitor the calendar. Just by paying attention to what’s already on the calendar, you’ll avoid some bombs that might otherwise destroy you. Without exception, year after year after year, there are certain things that happen in your ministry. Don’t assume that anyone else is thinking about them, much less doing anything about them. Sure, your colleagues aren’t really interested in talking about Christmas in July, but that may be exactly what’s needed to move everything forward and keep it on schedule. Oh, and you may need to be the one who drives that conversation.
Help them help you help them. Look for opportunities to educate people on what’s involved in what they’ve requested and how long it actually takes. It’s ok to inform them that the normal turnaround for this project is much longer than they’ve allowed. You can also let them know that the quality of the project will suffer because of their truncated time line. But, how you communicate that is really important.
Keep an encouraging and willing attitude. Your demeanor may be the single most important factor in the ultimate outcome of the project. Be careful that you don’t come off as a whiner. Always show a willingness to do whatever is needed to get the job done. The last thing they need is for you to be gripe-gut and a downer.
By the way, if you happen to be the leader who is consistently dumping last minute projects on your team, have mercy on them. Give them a heads up when something is brewing, then give them as much lead time as possible to make it happen.
They can make you look so much better when you do.