PUSH: Productivity at Work: Part 1 – People

prodictivity, pm. project management, workplace

PUSHing Your Peers to Being Productive at Work

Think about the most effective folks at your job. Now, think about what they have in common: They probably get along well with people; they don’t get hung up on personal conflicts; they do excellent, high-quality work, and they don’t get stuck, because they PUSH through obstacles, rather than allowing those obstacles to slow them down. What they do isn’t magic – it’s just persistence. But implementing these few tricks can make a big difference in your productivity at work and in your career.

This is the first article in a series on PUSHing through obstacles to improve your productivity at work. This week we’ll cover how to do PUSH through “people” obstacles, the kinds of delays and roadblocks that coworkers, clients, social media, and vendors sometimes present. Note that we’re not PUSHing people, we’re pushing through roadblocks that people present.

Getting Unstuck at Work, with People, and Motivation

One of the most common “people” roadblocks is a task that must be completed before you can move on to the next phase of the project. But for whatever reason, you can’t complete the task yourself: perhaps you don’t have the expertise, the authority, or the resources to complete this “critical path’ task. So you’re just waiting for this task to be completed before you can do anything else.

1.) Persist. You must persist in following up with the person charged with this task. Find out when this person expects the task to be completed and get a commitment to complete the task by this time. Find out what else is going on and ask if the task might be delayed because of other commitments. Make sure they know that nothing else can be done on the project until this task is completed, and that everything you can do has been done. (And make sure that this is true!)

If the person who is helping you won’t return your emails, call. If he won’t return your calls, show up at his office. And this is the most important part of being persistent: show up with a smile on your face and a smile in your voice. You have to be genuinely interested in the obstacles your co-worker is facing, or you’ll become a bull in the china shop of your office. Nobody will care about your deadlines if you don’t care about theirs. Ask, “What can I do to help you get this done? What obstacles can I clear for you? Can I provide any resources?” You must be doggedly persistent, but always kind.

2.) Appreciate your co-workers. If you find that you’re always depending on the same group of people, and you are constantly holding them accountable for deadlines, be sure to show them your appreciation. Buy doughnuts or bagels once in a while. Write notes, or mention their work to their boss. If one person always comes through for you, make sure everyone – your boss his boss, and everyone else knows this.

3.) Take responsibility and never blame. Finally, the most important tip: take responsibility for delays. Keep your boss or key project stakeholders updated about the project and any delays. The key here is to know exactly what is going on with your project and what is holding up your critical path tasks. Never run down your co-workers, clients, or suppliers, even if they deserve it! Talk only about the facts: due dates, communications, and the like. Talk about everything you’ve done and the ways you’ve tried to route around the problem, then ask for advice to help clear the obstacle. Your boss may tell you that the task you thought was so important isn’t important after all. Or she may put more resources on the project.

Don’t Push or Pass the Buck

And here’s a bonus tip: Never let the words, “I called him, but he didn’t call me back” pass your lips! This sentence reeks of passivity and blame.  Be accountable.  Don’t pass the buck.

There’s much more to come in the coming weeks. In the meantime, what tips do you have for pushing through obstacles at work?  Read Part 2 and learn more about Workplace Productivity from Dan. 

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Dan Lovejoy

Dan Lovejoy is a User Interface & Experience Architect at OG&E and a self-admitted adorable curmudgeon. The opinions here are his own and not his employer — in case you were wondering.

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