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Managing unrealistic work demands
December 8, 2013, 2:54 pm
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Don’t be a victim of unrealistic demands. You have more power than you think. Here is how to take control of your work and your life by putting an end to impossibly urgent requests and impractical deadliness.

Address it quickly:  As soon as you know a deadline is not manageable — or have a sneaking suspicion that it could get thrown off-track if something were to go less than perfectly —communicate it. Be proactive and provide a more realistic expectation as early as possible. Remember: It’s always better to under promise and over deliver.

Offer explanations, not excuses: Explain why certain demands are unrealistic and why the new expectation you are setting is more realistic. A large part of why people place unrealistic demands on others is simply that they don’t understand the work involved in performing specific tasks.
Be sure others are aware of the time it takes to do things, the other people involved in getting them done, and the time frames that can be expected on a regular basis.  Explanations should happen before the problem occurs, excuses can occur later.

Focus on quality: If you want something done quickly, the quality may suffer. When workers are held to unrealistic demands, the quality of work tends to go down as people stretch to achieve something over and beyond the norm. When deadlines get too tight, people start moving quickly and are more likely to make mistakes. Commit to providing high-quality work and ask others to help you stay true to this by giving you the time and resources you need to make it happen.

Ask for help: When people set unrealistic demands on you, they may not understand the frustration, stress, and overall negative impact it can have on you and your work. Ask them to help by considering what is truly urgent. Some people will always call a request “urgent” simply out of routine or fear that not calling it urgent will mean it never gets done. Ask them to use specific guidelines when labeling something “urgent.”

Make exceptions: No matter how hard you try to put an end to unrealistic demands, you never will; at least not entirely. So understand that you will need to, attempt to meet expectations that feel nearly impossible. No one likes a co-worker who refuses to pitch-in when needed. It has a seriously negative effect on team morale and it will probably get you labeled as being not a team player. Just do your best to make exceptions rare, not a part of your daily routine.

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