“We just can’t turn away work” …. How many times have I heard this … it’s got to be one of the most costly things a company can believe …. It has bought down companies. Too much work and the wrong jobs cause mistakes, unfulfilled expectations, stress and frustration leading to a bad culture, blame, finger pointing. It rushes jobs, fails on scope, forces mistakes and shortcuts, loses them money, upsets clients with poor quality, poor service.
So how often do you say no?
How often do you say no and then end up doing it? How often do you wish you’d said no? How often do you wish someone else had said no to you?
No seems to be the hardest word, to say and hear, even though it could benefit everyone just as much as a yes can!
If you could say no quickly and with reasons, how much time would you save for both yourself and the asker. Everyone would appreciate it.
Sure, if it was caveated with an excuse the asker may not ask again because you are being negative, but if it was based on reason and fact, you’ve avoided the negative and the best thing that could happen …… you would be asked again but with those reasons addressed.
So say no ….. everyone’s a winner …. If you can justify it to your client and your company.
But how do you stop giving reasons that sound like excuses and sounding negative …. What is the difference between an excuse and a reason? It’s in the perception of the receiver and it’s the providers responsibility to make sure its perceived as a reason and not an excuse.
So here’s some examples.
You’ve not got the stock in, it’s easy to say, we have no stock .. clear reason.
If you’re making something for someone from scratch, “We don’t have enough time” … starts sounding like an excuse and is less tangible.
To turn those excuses into reasons and make a quick decision you need some facts. No flaky, I don’t think, I don’t like.. meah …
“We only have 2,000 man hours capacity this month, we’re committed to 1,750 and it need 500 hours.”
“I’ve got this job enquiry, it will only produce 5% margin but will raise our profile in a market we need to have 30% of our company work in.”
“We will have to sub contract 12 items, the design is only 20% finalised, the site time is 40% of the project, the risk of this failing to hit our profit target and program creep effecting other projects is 80%.”
It would be nice wouldn’t it! Facts to help make a decision, to justify a decision and make the potential project a project you could do, if it comes back within the parameters you need.
And all this can be done, it just needs some thought and direction from the people that make decisions for the business.
With some simple direction, prioritisation, assessing what you can do and need to do, it will give you a clear picture and facts.
No need then to make superheroes of your staff, they won’t appreciate it anyway! Even if you do send out a LinkedIn post about how great they are for sacrificing their time to bail out a project, that you should have said no to.
And of course, you can’t say no all the time ….
So, rank the current opportunities based on their prioritisation and take on the best ones for that moment in time. It’s not that scary or hard to make it better for yourself.
I'd love to hear your views, experiences and comments and if you're interested in finding out more, drop me a line.
Thanks for reading
There are many types of prioritisation tools and they should be mixed and matched to the direction that your company needs to go in. To decide this, you may like to brainstorm amongst the business leaders the key ideas and use decision matrix as a start!
Hi I'm Simon. I've worked in projects for a while now, either management or design. I love projects but they're frustrating. Hope some of this help you.