Getting things done

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How often have we come across situations when what we have asked of has not been done by our colleagues at work (peers, juniors and bosses)? I have faced this situation innumerable number of times in my short career. Since most of my short career I have had the responsibility of getting things done from others, I have reasonable reference points to figure out why this happens. I have had my share of failures on this and have managed to overcome issues occasionally.

I had to prepare monthly reports and submit for review by the 8th. Usually, I would send a reminder by the 28th of the previous month, get the data by the 6rd, prepare a first cut by 7th and send by 8th after a review with the boss. One particular month, I had to submit it by 5th. In spite of reminders (personal and over mail), I struggled to get the data from 50% of the managers by 4th evening. Somehow, I managed to avert a mini disaster (blasting from the boss’ boss)

I have faced similar situations a number of times – many a times causing friction with people and getting an earful from the boss. Subsequently, I have also had the opportunity to think about why I get in these situations. In my dictionary, management requires effectively managing people. So, if the people you manage, directly or indirectly, do not end up doing things as per your authorized directions, there could be the following four reasons

  1. Disrespect: They do not respect you and either commit just to get you off their backs or intentionally delay your work
  2. Yes Sirs: They are in no position to do the task but do not know how to say no as well
  3. Genuine: They genuinely did not have the time and forgot to inform you
  4. Faulty expectations: You have been unreasonable with them either in terms of quantum of work or deadlines or both

Each of these situations can be handled differently. It requires an individual’s personality to adapt and get things done. However, the basic principal that I have learned is that one should always listen. Listening properly at the time of giving the task is quite obvious so as to ensure clear communication. However, when you know that the people who you are going to work with regularly, it is important that you listen to them even when you do not have formal transaction with them. That will help you understand a lot of clues about them, body language, tone etc. which will be useful at the time of getting things done.

What makes you tick?

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I came across this really fascinating TedTalk by Dan Ariely (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Ariely) on YouTube.

It is being said that more people from our generation  we are giving job satisfaction importance. I have always wondered how much truism is in it? More importantly, what exactly is job satisfaction? I think Mr. Dan Ariely explains this in a very articulate manner. Through the outcomes of a series of experiments, he divides the motivation to work into internal and external factors.

The internal motivation required to continue work is directly correlated to the degree of effort put in to complete the work. The more effort we put in leads to us putting more value to the output, irrespective of the actual value, and hence there is higher ownership towards it and increased desire to continue working.

The external motivation is dependent on, what is always known, the payment of effort. It need not only be monetary or material (but this is what is practiced mostly: the reward for good work is higher bonus, the incentive to improve performance is promise of higher bonus). Recognition plays a significant role. However, it is also true and proved through experiments here that there is always a gap between value (thus return) perceived by the maker and the appraiser.