Ever have one of those weeks where you feel like you spend most of your time meeting and discussing priorities, but have no time for actual work? The more you grow as a professional, the more time you spend setting direction and priorities – for your company/client, for yourself and for those around you.
This might be fabulous for those that embrace their bossy nature, but for those of us with a more accommodating personality, it can be uncomfortable. What I’ve learned over time is that “saying no” and priority-setting are not bossy attitudes, they are skills that are necessary for becoming a more strategic professional. You’re not telling people what to do; you’re deciding what will help move people or programs toward their most important goals.
The reality is that no one can do it all. And no good marketing or PR strategy can do it all either. Here are a few questions that I’ve found useful to raise when you’re facing an overly-full plate. Consider them strategic ways to say “no” or at least “not now” when talking to your boss or client:
- Focus on the end goal: Which of these items will help the organization make the greatest progress toward its main goals?
- Manage expectations: What are your expectations for X vs. Y? Ideally this would involve input from the ultimate decision-makers to whom you or your client is reporting.
- Try to space out initiatives: We could have more powerful results by focusing on X and moving Y to next month.
- Make the case for resources: We can do X, Y and Z, but we’ll need A and B to really do that successfully.
- No: As a wise client once told me, sometimes you just have to say NO! You can find a great discussion on this topic on Gini Dietrich’s blog from earlier this year.
What other approaches do you find effective for setting priorities?
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