Monday, February 1, 2016

Executing Well

Regardless of the industry you're in or the role you have executing well is crucial for you to be successful. It's also, very difficult and takes rigor to do well. He's some tips on how to execute well.

Understand what you're being asked for

This sounds obvious, but it's amazing how often during the course of a day I see a group people walk away from the same conversation with different understandings of the expectations on them and their team. It's important to ask clarifying questions and even more important to repeat back what you're being asked for so that the other person can validate or correct your assumptions. One tip to do this well is to simply restate the action items at the end of a meeting or conversation.

If, when you're asked for something, the person doesn't specify a time don't assume that you can do it whenever you want. Ask what the expectation is for you to deliver and if it's unreasonable, negotiate.

Take Notes

Your memory is not as good as you think it is. The context that seems obvious in the moment isn't going to be obvious 4 hours or 4 days later. The details about your initial approach may not be clear later.

Don't make assumptions

If you're not 100% sure about something clarify it. Making assumptions is always a losing bet. Best case scenario you're assumption was correct and you lost a non-tangible amount of time clarifying your assumption. Worst case scenario your assumption was incorrect and you were going to do the wrong thing or do something that is sub optimal.

Follow Up 

It's important to remember that your stakeholders job isn't to be in your problem space 100% of the time. That's your job. The farther up the management chain you go the more your space is competing for the attention of your stakeholder. You should assume your space is not the highest priority right now for the other person. You should also assume that your space is crucial for their and your teams success.

Even if you haven't started a particular ask or aren't complete, give periodic updates. Don't wait to be asked. This helps those that are relying on you to have confidence that you're thinking about the problem and are going to deliver on the ask. It also empowers others to help you by removing roadblocks, taking other lower priority tasks off your plate, identifying dependencies that you're unaware of, or helping to manage expectations with others.

When you see a problem, do something about it

You should assume that the problem also affects someone else and that the others affected aren't empowered to do something about it. You should also assume that no one else is going to do something about it. Don't leave broken windows unfixed.

Know your stakeholders

Understanding the level of abstraction your stakeholders work at is key to executing well. The people responsible for solving the problem will want to talk about the details and the methods used to deliver. As you communicate up the management chain you should transition what you talk about from the more intricate details to timelines, dependencies, and risks involved in executing.

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