Every office or working environment has probably had to deal with some angst among co-workers.
Picture this situation… one person has a deadline and realises they need information or input from another person or division. Sound familiar? And perhaps that first person or team may have sat on their bit a little longer than they should have. Still sounding familiar? And perhaps the next person or team gets a pretty tight deadline to do their bit by the time it lands on their desk. Familiar, right? And then, rightly so, the person or team with the super tight deadline is less than happy about it and may start to exhibit some defensive behaviours that may not be as productive as they could be. We’ve all been there!
Businesses lose so much productivity when people feel defensive. When a person feels defensive or out of control, their brain isn’t functioning as efficiently as it could and therefore at the time when you need the brain to function more efficiently, it’s not able to do so and therefore the task ends up taking longer, often causing even more stress, and the cycle continues.
So what are the four words which can save the angst?
“Just a heads up” should do the trick. If you know you are going to need input from someone else or that a tight deadline is coming that other people need to be involved with, communicating with them by starting a sentence with “just a heads up” is a way to give them warning that you are going to need their help with something and getting their buy in to jump on board. It will help people to feel invigorated by a tight deadline instead of becoming overwhelmed.
Giving them a heads up on what’s coming has the following advantages:
It gives them the opportunity to take control of planning their schedule around that time. They might request more flexible deadlines on some of their other projects or they might be able to bring forward some of the things on their to-do list so that they can make way to work on your project at exactly the time they need to.
They feel more in control and therefore more safe. This means that their pre-frontal cortex can work more efficiently and will get through the task as efficiently as possible.
They won’t hate you. Causing more pressure on someone that is really necessary is never a great way to build your political capital in any working arrangement. The more organised you are and the more you get buy-in from other people to help you, the easier it will be to get them on board on the odd occasion where it really is a tight deadline that you don’t have any control over.
So just try giving a few more “heads up” to a few more people and see how people respond.
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