How many of us feel like our company has a "Them vs. Us" culture? The tension between what leadership demands and the fact that you are working with limited resources.
You might be asked to take on a great deal more work than you feel your teams can handle. The gut reaction is often to set limits and boundaries, which adds to the adversarial atmosphere.
Executive leaders will always look for opportunities to grow the company, while managers will need to execute on them. The way to get ahead of issues before they arise is to communicate clearly from the start. When expectations are lost in the 'handoff' from executive to the manager who will implement it, problems arise.
If you find yourself a situation where you are asked to take on something you don't have the resources for (e.g. time, money, people), the key is to create workability by:
- Managing up
- Being responsible for clear communication
Hold your supervisor or upper management to account. Ask for clear direction. Here are some examples of what you might say:
"I’m really committed to making this initiative happen. Can we brainstorm some needed resources?" (demonstrate your enthusiasm and understanding of the project)
"This is how our team needs support in order to make the initiative happen." (be clear about what you need)
"Can we adjust the timeline?" (strive to meet deadlines, but be realistic)
"Who will lead the project? Here is the person who I think would be great to lead…" (designate a leader; suggest one if possible)
"I'll need to know by next Monday to avoid interrupting other commitments, and if we can't make that timeframe, then I'll proceed with plan B." (hold your supervisor accountable to a timelines)
Setting limits only perpetuates the stress between the ranks, so turn your interactions from "No, because..." to "Yes, how can we...?"
What did you think of this episode? Demanding? Workable? Give us a piece of your mind here.