Run and hide until the problem passes is one option, but not a good one. Let’s face it, despite our best efforts, problems do occur. The problems that occur at work fall into several business-related categories, such as too much work, too few resources, mistakes, and unanticipated events. In addition, and often more significantly for employees, interpersonal issues can cause significant stress. This blog will deal with the first category. Subsequent postings will consider the remaining categories.
In most companies, especially growing organizations, there is often too much to do relative to the number of staff and resources available. How an organization copes with these challenges is integral to the well-being of the organization and the people in the organization. For us it starts with a focus on our clients. Many companies pay lip service to this, but for ABS, it is a guiding principle. We judge most actions by answering the question: How does this affect our clients? For example, does it improve quality, speed, communications, or ease of working with us. This focus gives us clarity and makes it easier to prioritize our actions.
When one clearly knows why they are doing something and why it is important, decisions are easier. Extraneous matters don’t cloud the process. When new tasks are added to an already heavy schedule, it becomes easier to know what is important. This applies to both work and other aspects of life. Knowing what is important makes decisions easier and guides one’s actions in the right direction. Secondary issues are less important, less distracting, and less stressful. This greatly improves the likelihood of success in any area of one’s life.
By way of my own bad example, I think up new projects on an almost daily basis and share these with our staff. Those who work with me, know what is important and maintain focus on our clients, guided by our mission to help make biological research faster, easier, and more reliable. With that in mind, team members have no problem putting tasks in the proper order and letting me know when too much is too much. Interesting ideas still are acted upon, but with the appropriate priority.
There is a counterpart to this discussion of too much work. In addition to a focus on priorities, it is equally important to say no and not over-promise whether with internal or external clients. A misplaced desire to please only backfires and leads to disappointment.
In discussions with our clients, if it becomes clear that we can’t do what is being asked, we say so. No organization can do everything. Some requests are just not possible. If that is the case, it is important to say so and not waste anyone’s time.
While we would all like every request fulfilled, it is far preferable to hear a clear no than to be disappointed later with excuses and poor performance. False commitments benefit no one and create stress for everyone. You should always expect a straight and responsive answer from ABS, because none of us wants the stress of doing otherwise.