I've lost track of the times I've been
told in someone's positive or na´ve thinking
mode, "No problem," only to have the no problem
become one. At the time they said it, there might
not have been a problem, but they didn't factor
in workplace potholes, speed bumps, detours or
traffic stops. Like a high-wire acrobat in a
Cirque du Soleil performance, winning at working
necessitates the use of safety nets with your work, too.
If you're on a project team or dependent on
information, research, systems development,
creative materials or work from anyone, their
ability to deliver what you need, on time, can
pose challenges impacting your results and
credibility. So can direction changes, budget
cuts, project enhancements, staff or boss
changes, timetable adjustments and a host of others.
People who aren't winning at working often
believe reasons outside of their control mitigate
their less than optimal performance results. But
they're wrong. Come annual increase time, your
boss won't remember the problems you had. She'll
remember if you delivered what was expected or you didn't.
People who are winning at working understand the
importance of delivering results. They also
understand that in order to consistently do that,
they need safety nets to protect them from a
fall, enabling them, and their teams, to build
performance trust. There are many ways to weave
your performance safety nets. Here are four favorites of mine.
One, work in parallel tracks. People typically
work in a linear fashion, so changing your
approach allows you to work through theirs. I'm
currently using four parallel tracks for my new
book, Hitting Your Stride (Capital Books, January
2008). These include: building an audience
(platform); writing the book; developing
marketing approaches; and learning the book
business. So, when waiting on issues outside of
my control in one area, I move ahead on another track.
Two, help them, help you. Information crucial for
you to move forward may be low on someone else's
priority list. So help them help you. Write the
copy, then get their okay. Develop the spec,
straw person or outline and have them sign off.
Complete the funding documents and shepherd them
through the approval process. Write the proposal
and give it to them or their staff for review.
Bottom-line? Figure out a way to help them help you.
Three, use pre-established lifelines. Work
lifelines are comprised of people you know that
you can tap in case of a crisis. Maybe they're
friends or family or colleagues, but by nature of
your relationship, you know they will do most
anything for you, and you for them. My husband is
one of my lifelines, known to show up as an extra
pair of hands, solve a technical crises at 3:00
a.m. or jump into problem solving as options fail.
Four, have a specific plan B. The operative word
is specific. Most people think about a Plan B
when plan A unravels. But the time to think about
B is when planning A. Working the details of your
preferred plan alerts you to elements at risk, so
figure out if x does happen, precisely what
you'll do. We did that during the 2006 blizzard
that closed Denver's airport. Wanting to see our
two-week old granddaughter at Christmas, Plan B
included packing our car for a 1000 mile trip
before we went to the airport, in case the flight was canceled.
"No problem" problems will emerge. So, people who
are winning at working expect the unexpected and
plan for the unplanned to insure their
performance success. They understand, as Napoleon
Hill put it, "The majority of men meet with
failure because of their lack of persistence in
creating new plans to take the place of those which fail."
(c) 2007 Nan S. Russell. All rights reserved.
Receive a copy of 21 Winning Career Tips (a free
download) at http://www.winningcareertips.com.
Nan Russell has spent over twenty years in
management, most recently with QVC as a Vice
President. She has held leadership positions in
Human Resource Development, Communication,
Marketing and line Management. Nan has a B.A.
from Stanford University and M.A. from the
University of Michigan. Currently finishing her
new book, Hitting Your Stride: Your Work, Your
Way(Capital Books, January 2008), Nan is an
columnist, author, coach and speaker. Visit http://www.nanrussell.com.