30 Career Management Tips — Define your work

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Sep 22

This month, I’m providing a career management tip-a-day (along with other posts) to help you trigger your own career management activities.

Today’s tip: Define your work.

This is old skool: Peter Drucker noted years ago that the hardest thing for a knowledge worker to do was to define the work that needs to be done.

This is true.

How many times have you thought the task was one thing, but, in reality, it was something different? How many times have you delivered what you thought you needed in one format, but your manager wanted a different format? How many times have you delivered what you thought was wanted on the due date and found it wasn’t what was needed at all? And how many times have you nailed the requirements for the task and found that your manager changed the task in mid-stream.

Me too.

It’s ugly. Time wasting. And reflects poorly on your personal brand. It’s lousy career management because you can’t seem to deliver what you need to deliver to your management team.

Here’s four tips on how to deliver in a constantly changing environment:

  • Repeat the deliverable provided to you. This will clear up a multitude of misunderstandings between you and your manager on what you think will need to be delivered.
  • Ask for the format of the deliverable. Word? Excel? PowerPoint? What fields? How many pages? What documentation?
  • Deliver a prototype. Do it well before the due date — and expect to change everything. Is this what you were looking for?
  • Deliver a second iteration — because your manager will ask for additional information that was not apparent before the task was assigned.
  • Deliver the final version with enough time to change everything. Because more than 50% of the time the needs will change.

In my experience, what is provided at the time of the assignment of the task is NEVER what the final deliverable looks like.

So plan for the change. Define your work.

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