You're probably juggling multiple projects already, and your boss keeps throwing new ones at you. Here's how to manage expectations and ensure that your contribution is viewed positively.
- You're probably juggling multiple projects already, and if you're like most of us, your boss keeps throwing new ones at you. How can you keep up and do a good job, and manage your supervisor's expectations? As with many things in life, the majority of problems can be avoided with a detailed conversation upstream well before any actual deadlines. The first step is making a comprehensive list of the projects you're working and rank ordering them based on your understanding of priorities. You then wanna set up a meeting with your boss where you can confer, and ask if you're understanding of their relative importance matches her's.
The last thing you wanna do is waste time pushing hard on the 10th priority when number one is languishing. You have limited time and energy, and you wanna expend it on the right things, so ask. Next, for each project, come up with a time estimate. How long do you realistically think it'll take you to complete it? For instance, creating the pitch deck might take 90 minutes, writing the client report might be three hours, and pulling together your department's annual budget might take 10 hours of work. Then talk with your boss and match up those expectations.
See if he thinks those are realistic estimates, and if you're wildly off, that can surface misaligned expectations early on. You might envision the departmental budget project as taking 10 hours and being hugely laborious, but maybe he just meant you should email everyone, ask them for some numbers, and pull together a spreadsheet, which would take an hour, not 10. Knowing that enables you to triage much more effectively, and also push back where necessary. If you agree that writing a certain memo will take three hours, but he wants you to do 30 hours worth of other projects first, he's certainly not gonna get that memo on his desk tomorrow.
Finally, make sure you know what the deadline is for every project. We may think we know, or have an implicit understanding, but it pays to be explicit, and know exactly what others are envisioning. You can't prioritize effectively if you don't grasp the real urgency or lack thereof behind a given task. Understanding deadlines gives you the power to shift and adjust your schedule based on what's actually most important. Expectations are tricky and they're often unstated, and often unrealistic. Having detailed conversations up front, can help spare you confusion and dissatisfaction down the road, because you know where you stand.
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- Interpreting nonverbal cues
- Asking your boss the right questions
- Knowing when to listen and when to speak
- Communicating in tricky situations
- Handling an interruption
- Responding to critical feedback
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