I cannot warp space-time. This may seem obvious, but a lot of people seem to think leaders can alter the fabric of space-time. As if we hoard time in some spatial tesseract and dole it out to those we deem worthy.
Why do I say this? How many times have you heard (or said) something like this:
“If management gave us the time to do the job properly, we would not have these problems.”
Whoa there, nobody has the power to “give” you time. Time is something we all share equally. Your day, like my day, and the day of every living being on earth is 24 hours. No boss can extend, alter, or change that.
Demanding time from a manager is a pointless request. Because the real question here is not “has the boss given me enough time?” but rather, “what are you doing with the time you have?”
Therefore, change the conversation from demands for time, to one of expectations, deadlines, and resources. This allows you to better assess how to use the time you have, and if you are doing the work that is necessary.
Ask questions such as:
- What level of quality is expected? You may putting more time into an effort than is necessary or expected.
- What is the deadline and how was that deadline determined? There may be some larger strategic issues at stake.
- What resources are available? Is there a tool or data you need. Maybe your boss can help with that.
- Are more resources really going to help? Adding people or tools to a project may promise time savings, but actually add overhead and prolong completing the project.
- What is my job? Maybe your boss thinks your job is something different than you do.
- Has this been done before? Perhaps you can learn from them.
- Are the constraints on the work helpful or harmful? All work has constraints, not all of them are negative. Explore this with your boss.
In short, do not ask for time, ask for clarity about the results expected. Time is a precious resource. Leaders expect it to be consumed wisely. An hour discussion about expectations may eliminate all the time concerns. Moreover, it may uncover that you do not have enough time to do the work correctly. This would cut off a request for time before you ever actually had it.
However, if you do complain about not being given enough time, then expect the time you are consuming to be scrutinized. You may think you are busy, but if most of your day is consumed with unnecessary meetings and redundant reports, then you really are not busy. You have made yourself appear busy.
Lastly, most leaders understand that creative work is time consuming. However, that does not mean you can take forever. Goals without deadlines are dreams. And businesses do not grow and prosper on dreams alone.
Now, if I could warp-space time, I’d totally go to that planet with the big lizard guy.