Do your colleagues or your boss have a habit of placing unreasonable work demands on you and your team? Making their emergencies your emergencies? It’s frustrating and leads to unecessary overtime (often unpaid), work related stress and sleepless nights – which make those long days even harder to take.
Here are some suggestions to take back control, courtesy of the Nine To Five Experts at the Globe and Mail:
Set up a giant white board with your active projects, work required, whose assigned and their deadlines in bold. When Mr. “All Important Emergency” barges in with an unreasonable demand ask him whose work you should bump to handle his “sky is falling” request. Put the onus on the interloper to make the call.
Develop established turnaround schedules for projects of similar size, scope, time, etc. Post or circulate these prominently. If emergencies are a regular occurrence, provide broader time lines in general, which would give you and/or your team more flexibility when a last-minute request comes in. Build emergency time into these projections.
If you’re the supervisor, assign a “rover”, if the budget allows, who would be available to step out of an existing project and take on the emergency for a short period of time. Or suggest doing so to your boss.
If communication is what is lacking in your workplace, start talking. Walk each colleague through the execution process from the time they drop the bomb to completion. Show them and tell them why last minute “emergencies” make things difficult for you and/or your team. Some people have a tendency to exaggerate their self-inflicted problems, portraying them as “emergencies” so others have to step in to do the sandbagging. Rarely are the asserted consequences as severe as they want you to believe. Often they’re simply master manipulators in getting others to jump because they themselves are unorganized.
It’s estimated that with technology fudging the lines between work and personal time, the average worker spends an extra three weeks (120 hours) a year in overtime answering emails and doing other work related tasks while at home. Acknowledge and express appreciation for it if you’ve got a team you value.
Remind yourself and your staff that you’re doing great work – especially if you’ve been pulling rabbits out of hats all this time. Rewards and perks keep productive people happy and motivated. Develop some ideas about how to provide some and present them to your boss or offer them to your team.