I hope you can learn from others' mistakes, particularly mine.
It wasn't until my late thirties that I even realized I was making this mistake. After all, if your boss asks you to do something, you do it. And being the overachieving and anxious-to-please person that I am, I would jump into whatever it was with both feet. (I once worked for someone who said that when he gave me something to do, I treated it as a "mission from God.")
Don't get me wrong; I have a deeply held value that if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well.
But what is it's not worth doing? Sometimes, the request comes from a passing thought or a vague idea. And if you going charging off with a vague idea, there's a good chance that you are wasting your time. So before you take something on, make sure that you clarify expectations. Even if your boss, or the client, or a fellow board member -- whoever the sponsor is -- isn't clear on what is expected.
Start with putting some thoughts together and discuss it with the sponsor. Here are the things I cover, at a minimum:
Scope helps you to define how much effort will be involved to produce the necessary deliverables. Am I developing a plan, or implementing it? Am I doing a pilot test with one target group in one office, or will it be broader than that? Can it take three months, given my current workload, or am I to drop everything else and finish it in three weeks?
The primary objective determines the sponsor's expectations. I might launch a new service that produces $25,000 in new revenues, and think I have done a great job! But if the boss was expecting $50,000, and we never discussed the primary objective, then I have failed.
SATISFACTION = EXPECTATIONS / RESULTS
From a career management standpoint, failure is bad. And even if you gave it your best effort, working in the wrong direction or aiming for unrealistic expectations, it is your mistake. It used to be my mistake.
Before you jump, ask "how high?"
Click to set custom HTML