After Tara understood what her priorities were, her next step was to learn how to manage expectations at work.
To understand her priorities, she made a list of all the tasks she did at work and booked a meeting with her manager.
After the meeting, Tara understood what to prioritize at work. She felt better already!
She went back to The World in Her Words to get advice on how to manage expectations at work.
In the first story on how to manage your time, I covered how to understand your priorities at work.
In this story, you will learn how to manage expectations at work.
Managing expectations allows you to focus on your priorities and it also saves you time.
If you master how to manage expectations with people, they’ll know exactly what to expect from you.
Scenario: Your manager has asked you to take on a big project at work. The project will help you develop and grow.
Chris, a colleague on your team asks you if you can take on a big part of his project.
You like working with Chris but if you commit to helping him, you’ll have less time to focus on your project.
What do you do?
You manage expectations with Chris. To manage expectations with people, you need to know what your boundaries are and communicate them.
That’s why it’s important to know what your priorities are as they will help you understand your boundaries. To manage expectations with Chris, here are some steps you can take:
Ask more questions about the project to understand the role you’re expected to play.
You can ask questions like ‘What is the goal of the project?’ ‘How many hours do you think you’ll need me to commit to weekly?’
Ask For Time
Delay giving a response on the spot and ask for time to think about it.
You can say “Thank you for thinking of me. I’d like some time to think about this. Can I let you know in a week?”
Estimate How Much Time It Will Take
Estimate how much of your time the project will require weekly. If you’ve done the tasks before, it’s easy to make estimates.
If you’ve not done the tasks before, ask people who have for their estimates. You can make a guess but guess based on the worst case scenario.
Remember that projects hardly ever go according to plan.
Be Honest With Yourself
Once you’ve estimated how much time is required from you, be honest with yourself about whether you can take it on.
Ask yourself ‘How will taking this on benefit me and my goals?’
“But Aisha, that’s savage!” you might think.
Studies show that women are more likely to volunteer for “non-promotable” tasks more than men; that women are more frequently asked to take such tasks on; and that when asked, they are more likely to say yes. (Babcock, Recalde and Vesterlund, 2018)
Translation: Women tend to take on tasks at work that may not necessarily benefit their career.
Give A Response
If there are smaller tasks you can commit to that are manageable, give the ‘Yes and’ response.
Be very firm, clear and specific about which tasks you can take on.
The ‘Yes and’ Response: Chris I can take on only some of the project tasks as I’m also working on a different project. I’ve made a list, can we go through them?
What if you know that taking on any aspect of the project will mean longer hours and time taken from working on your project? The wise thing to do is say no.
The ‘No Because’ Response: Chris I appreciate you involving me in this project. I can’t take this on because I’m focusing on another project. When the project is finished, I might be able to help out.
Saying no can be hard for women. We live in a world where women who are assertive and not always agreeable are not seen in the best light.
In the next post, I’ll cover when and how to say no and why it is crucial to your career success.
Tell me how you manage expectations with people in the comments or tweet at me.
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