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Win at Work

The "No Problem" Problem
By Nan S. Russell
Oct 11, 2012 - 3:46:27 PM

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I've lost track of the times I've been told in someone's positive or naive thinking mode, "No problem," only to have the non problem become one. At the time they said it, there might not have been a problem, but they didn't factor in workplace potholes, speed bumps, detours, or traffic stops. Like a high-wire acrobat in a Cirque du Soleil performance, winning at working necessitates the use of safety nets with your work, too.

If you're on a project team or dependent on information, research, systems development, creative materials, or work from anyone, their ability to deliver what you need, on time, can pose challenges impacting your results and credibility. So can direction changes, budget cuts, project enhancements, staff or boss changes, timetable adjustments and a host of others.

People who aren't winning at working often believe reasons outside of their control mitigate their less than optimal performance results. But they're wrong. Come annual increase time or promotion consideration, your boss won't remember the problems you had. She'll remember whether or not you delivered what was expected.

People who are winning at working understand the importance of delivering results. They also understand to consistently do that requires constructing safety nets to protect them from a fall, enabling them and their teams to build performance trust. There are many ways to weave performance safety nets. Here are four favorites of mine.

1.  Work in parallel tracks. People typically work in a linear fashion, but by changing your approach you can enhance your progress. For example, I'm currently maneuvering on four parallel tracks for my book endeavors. These include getting the word out about The Titleless Leader (Career Press, 2012), working on my next proposal, building an audience for future books (platform), and increasing my book business knowledge. When I'm waiting on issues outside of my control in one area, I can still move ahead on another track.

2.  Help them, help you. Information crucial for you to get something accomplished may be low on someone else's priority list. So help them help you. Write the copy, then get their okay. Develop the spec, straw-person, or outline and have them sign off. Complete the funding documents and shepherd them through the approval process. Craft the proposal and give it to a person they designate for review. Bottom-line? Figure out a way to help them help you.

3. Use pre-established lifelines. Work lifelines are comprised of people you can tap in case of a crisis. Maybe they're friends, family, or colleagues, but by nature of your relationship, you know they'll do most anything for you, and you for them. My husband is one of my lifelines, known to show up as an extra pair of hands, solve a technical crises at 3:00 a.m. or jump into problem solving as options fail.

4. Have a specific plan B. The operative word is specific. Most people think about a Plan B when plan A unravels. But the time to think about B is when planning A. Working the details of your preferred plan alerts you to elements at risk, so figure out if x does happen, precisely what you'll do. I develop a Plan B when I sign an agreement for a critical speaking or consulting engagement, developing alternative ways to reach the event should a flight be delayed or canceled.

As Napoleon Hill wrote, "The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail." Yes, "no problem" problems will emerge. So, if you want to be winning at working, expect the unexpected and plan for the unplanned to insure your performance success.

(c) 2012 Nan S. Russell.  All rights reserved.

Nan Russell's latest book is The Titleless Leader (Career Press, 2012). Other books include: Hitting Your Stride and Nibble Your Way to Success. More about Nan and her work

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