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Archive for May, 2012


Ten Tips for Completing Assignments

  1. Before taking on a new assignment, consider the effect of this new responsibility on your current duties. If necessary, ask for help in integrating the new assignment and in reprioritizing tasks.
  2. Find out how your manager will evaluate success. Clarify his or her expectations, identify how much autonomy you have for making decisions and understand how success will be measured.
  3. Identify what resources you need, what are readily available and what need to be obtained.
  4. Ask your manager to inform other involved people about the assignment and your level of authority.
  5. Find out how your manager wants to monitor your progress and provide regular status reports.
  6. Express your confidence in your ability to do the job.
  7. Build a plan starting with the deadline, set milestone dates and describe what is to be delivered on each date. Then, set small interim goals that allow you to measure progress and bolster your self-confidence.
  8. When problems arise that you cannot handle yourself, ask for advice and help.
  9. Regularly review the goal for the assignment and revise your plan to ensure you are working toward it.
  10. Make sure your performance evaluation reflects the delegated assignment. If the delegated task will become part of your ongoing responsibilities, you may need to modify the job description and performance plan to consider the new responsibilities.

Write Positively for Better Results

Your writing will be more successful if you focus on positive wording rather than negative wording since positive words are more likely to produce the response you want. A positive emphasis is more persuasive and generates goodwill on the part of the reader. In contrast, negative words can generate resistance.

  • Watch the use of the word you. This word tends to put people on the defensive. 
  • Avoid judgmental phrases, such as you claim, you obviously missed this, you deliberately neglected to.
  • Contractions, such as can’t, won’t and wouldn’t, are more positive than the spelled out words, cannot, will not, would not.
  • State what something is, not want it isn’t. Here’s an example of a negative statement of what something is not: You have 1,000 too few points to meet the requirement for an upgrade. The positive version is this: You will be eligible for an upgrade when you accumulate 1,000 additional points.

In this last example, the message is the same, but the second example is much more positive and communicates a better tone to the reader.  All these suggestions also apply to verbal communication.  Keep it positive, and be positively productive!


Ask the Right Questions

Can’t stop someone from talking?

Can’t get good answers from people?

Need to ask the same question more than once to get to the information you need?

If you don’t get the response you need when you ask questions, maybe you need to ask better questions! Here are some tips for asking questions that lead to better answers.

  • Ask open questions to elicit more than yes and no answers. Start open questions with how, what, would, which. How could we do this faster? What do you think would work in this situation? What might happen if we did it this way? Which way do you prefer? How do you feel about taking this step?
  • Ask probing questions to get more information. What else did you like? What other solution would work for you? Can you think of anything we are missing?
  • Ask leading questions to clarify and gain agreement. Leading questions often end with don’t you, won’t you, and isn’t it. Last month I didn’t have to complete the report until the 30th. That’s true this month, too, isn’t it?
  • Use closed questions to stop the other person from rambling. Closed questions require a yes or no answer.  Do you  want to add anything more to the discussion? Is it time to move on?

Being able to effectively communicate, just might start with asking the right questions!


Build Resilience

The ability to lead in changing times requires resilience—the ability to bounce back and stay strong. The American Psychological Association suggests these ways to build resilience.

  1. Maintain good relationships with close family members, friends and others.
  2. Avoid seeing crises or stressful events as unbearable problems.
  3. Accept circumstances that cannot be changed.
  4. Develop realistic goals and move toward them.
  5. Take decisive actions in adverse situations.
  6. Look for opportunities of self-discovery after a struggle with loss.
  7. Develop self-confidence.
  8. Keep a long-term perspective and consider the stressful event in a broader context.
  9. Maintain a hopeful outlook, expect good things and visualize what is wished.
  10. Take care of one’s mind and body by exercising regularly, paying attention to one’s own needs and feelings, and engaging in relaxing activities that one enjoys.
  11. Learn from the past and maintain flexibility and balance in life.

Juggling Multiple Managers

Working for more than one person can be challenging. The key to success is discovering how your skills complement each manager’s skills. You also need to develop and cultivate an individual relationship with each manager.

  • Make sure each manager understands all the projects, deadlines and priorities you are working on.
  • Use a whiteboard in your office to capture your top five priorities each week and which manager they go with.
  • Send out regular status reports to explain what you are working on for each manager and to track your accomplishments.
  • Adjust your style for each manager. If one manager likes a lot of details and another likes just sound bites, write longer emails and leave longer voice mail messages for the former and shorter ones for the latter.
  • Be aware of conflicting messages and do not get in the middle of a conflict between managers. Ask for resolution and direction in prioritizing tasks.

Keep the lines of communication open and you will be positively productive!