When the calendar page turned over to the first day of 2015, it seemed that there would be plenty of time to accomplish all the things I wanted to do. This week, reality is settling in. January is moving fast. The minutes and hours are fading into days which are becoming weeks. We’re almost at the end of the month already. How can that be possible?
This is a new year and I was excited about my plans for new achievements. Are those hopes fading?
Absolutely not! I’m determined to accomplish what I have set out to do. The good news is that I have already made some progress on my two projects. Yet I haven’t accomplished nearly what I had expected to do, even by now. It’s easy to start feeling defeated, with a growing sense that the projects will never get done. But I know that is not true, I just have to make some adjustments if I want to get back on schedule.
One of the projects I’m working on is not easy for me. It’s requiring new skills and it’s also challenging to fit it in an already busy schedule. It’s way too easy to push aside the difficult, uncomfortable tasks and move towards taking care of familiar things that are pulling at me. But if I allow that to keep happening, my project will never see the light of day.
Employees can fall into this trap, too, feeling overwhelmed by what’s ahead. Even when someone is capable, it doesn’t mean it’s easy. It gets more complicated if they have too many conflicting priorities on their plate — or they aren’t excited about the project to begin with. I put my own project plans in motion and I still run into challenges, but imagine if someone forced an activity upon you. Just because it’s a priority on your list doesn’t make it so for them. Things might be going amok if you start to hear excuses creep into status reports (if you’re lucky enough to get one), describing emergency fires that needed attention or routine tasks that developed complications, taking additional work time to complete. It’s unlikely that they’ll come right out with “I hate this work!” but rather try to find ways to circumvent it.
As a manager, it’s your role to set the expectations for what is needed in the job. That might mean getting someone to have courage to move outside their comfort zone or do something that they don’t want to do. The best results will come out of how you work with the person to break through obstacles, whether real or imagined. Sometimes a manager feels they shouldn’t have to micro-manage or baby-sit, and there are times when an employee should take the initiative. But if they aren’t moving ahead with the task at hand, it’s likely because they feel they can’t or don’t want to. You’ll need to work with them to find out how to get through that.
And it’s you that is procrastinating, you should find a buddy and have this type of frank conversation. Ask for their ideas of support; a fresh and honest perspective might be just what you need to get moving. So what’s stopping you from your new year’s achievements?