Ever get blindsided by some issue or event? You just did not see it coming…
Last time I discussed forgetting items given to you by others. Now I move to items that you do not see coming.
I have been blindsided by events and people several times in my career. There are things that you just do not see coming, but impact you or your firm in a major way. Some of them seem to come from nowhere and others seem to be done on purpose. Both of these may be true. Things may change and you are never informed and sometimes others may actually try to sabotage your efforts in subtle ways.
Here are some things to do that might help avoid the unexpected. I always tend to ask questions and so this advice will center on that. When asking these questions you might get all of them in one shot, but typically you will not have a boss that will put up with all of these in one sitting. They may just tell you to get the job done. If that happens just ask them across several days/weeks in small chunks.
Ask what the rules are. Find out what rules might be applied to the area you are working on. Is there a budget? Who has to approve what? What paperwork needs to be filled out? Who needs to be informed of my progress?
Ask what the limits are. Is there a limit on how I can get this job done? Do others have a trump card that can stop my progress? Is there a time constraint or deadline that has to be met? Can I expect others to assist me in this effort? Are there man-hours I can use toward this effort? Can others use those man-hours (timecard charge numbers) when I need help?
Ask if everything effecting a program or project has been shared. Am I being told everything? Is there anything else I need to know? Can others fill in more details if I need additional data? Can I talk to others about the impact of this program/project?
Ask if you can move forward without checking with others. Do I have to get approval along the way? If so, whose approval is needed? Do I have to report approvals that I get from others back to you?
Ask if you are really the bottom line decision maker. Can I make the decisions that come up along the way? When I reach milestones and make choices, who should I report to? How often do you want reports on this effort?
Ask to be informed if any of the above changes. Can I expect to be informed if something changes along the way? Can I ask about changes that I think have been made from the original scope? When changes are made to scope, can we discuss impact and schedule again?
Along the way, you should also document the answers you get. I usually put them in emails as reports on the discussions that have taken place. Just reminders that this was discussed and quick documentation of my perspective on the outcome.
Here is an example:
Thanks for the quick update on the management side of this project. As discussed and agreed, I will be starting the pilot project on Monday after letting Jill, Vijay and Chan know about it. Just to be sure, you did not mention anyone else being informed. Let me know if that has changed.
The next budget milestone is Oct. 2 and we are on track. I discuss this project with the CFO every other week and she will let me know of concerns. I also let Bob know of my progress as defined in the scope. If there are any others, let me know.
Thanks for your support,
While questions and documents will not guarantee that you will never step into the wrong area or have something change on you without notification, it might help.