Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The art of saying "no"

Try to go a whole day without starting a sentence with "No..." It's really hard.

Along with the ever popular phrase "no, but..." (and the occasional need to swear), "no" is often a reaction as much as an answer.

"No" is as ubiquitous as "um.." We use the word to buy time, create space and consider options. While I am a firm believer in  using "no" when necessary or true, it does not help me in the kazillion situations at work where I want to say it but feeling awkward about it.

Here's I say no at work:
"Flattered that you think you need my help! What exactly do you believe I can contribute? Or does this just need an immediate warm body?"  (I didn't say no, I just made it harder for them to dump and run. Unless they can answer the question and then I know I'm genuinely needed)

"That sounds like something I don't know how to do. Will you be sitting with me while I do it?" (Same as above and I'm ok with looking out of my depth some times)

"Excellent. I can do that in about 3 weeks. If you need it faster, you might have to find someone else?" (Either I'm the right person to do it or they just need a warm body...)

"Sure, I can do that. X and X will go on hold till I'm done. Let me know if we have sign off to delay before I start?" (Seriously, this works)

"No. I appreciate your need, I really do. I am not the right person/ timing is poor / etc." (Some days one just says "no"... without a but...)

Any other good ideas out there?

PS> For a great perspective on how to use the word "no" effectively, start with Barbara Coloroso and her take on parenting with the word "no."

Monday, May 16, 2016

Success includes failure

We all seek success – however we define it.

Consider:  Success is not measured by how many hours you put in or how many projects went in under your watch. It is measured by the legacy you leave and the value you provided along the way through both your influence and achievements.

So success includes failures because we're not defined by the failure but in how we recover from it.

As I mess up on an hourly basis on my current assignment, it's easy for me to lose sight of progress - never mind any successes. Today, someone leaned over my shoulder and said 'Hey, we're having better conversations now. Good job.'

I had been fussing about how much there was to do still. He focused on the value he was seeing. 

It's a nice way to start the week....

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


I wish I knew who first brought this to my attention; I am eternally grateful. I would credit the author if I knew who it was - they're very smart. This is a great mentoring conversation to have.

Delegation is something done badly just about everywhere. It's hard to delegate among family and friends; it's expected at work and expected to not go well. Part of bad delegation is not clearly understanding the level of responsibility being handed off. Managers forget to say; people forget to ask.

Delegation is not about letting go of the final sign off. I can completely delegate getting the car cleaned (where, when, by whom, how) and yet still pay for it. My manager can delegate a project to me but I still will need his signature even if all the decisions are mine.

Level 1: I do it myself.  No help. No input. My brain and strength alone. 

Level 2: I do it but some folks need to give me input. I may not take the input at the end but I will listen because I asked for it. Maybe I will even  hand off a small part for someone else to do. I'm busy browning the chicken so can you chop the onions for the meal I'm making (that your input - chicken or shrimp - has already influenced).

Level 3: We do it together. ha! in what universe does that work? The decision must be made and if we all keep debating the choices I'm never going to pick a solution. Someone always owns the final word.

Level 4: You do it with input from me. My personal favourite... backseat driving :-) Which is not, of course, true delegation so ignore that example. Really, it's your final decision but I will attempt to shape the outcome as I'm giving up the ownership to you but not letting go all the way... (I should write a whole post on level 4: Learning to pry the "delegater's" fingers further off the project. Post a comment if you agree...)

Level 5: You do it. Enough said

Do you know your level of authority across your projects?

hmmm.... do I?