Monday, July 14, 2014

Prioritizing is not child's play

A few weeks back, a friend of mine was looking for a new job. Before appearing for an interview, she appeared edgy. In order to help her alleviate her self doubts and also to get her prepared for her upcoming interview, I started asking her mock interview questions. These were questions I would ask if I were the hiring manager. While answering, her answers centered around prioritizing the current tasks for a couple of questions.

When I heard the term "prioritizing" for the second time, I couldn't help smiling. My reason for smiling was simple. By reverting back to the previous answer for a second question, my friend was committing a faux pas. Sitting at the other side of the table, the interviewer has already heard her when she said "prioritizing" the first time. She could have thought of something different. Then, she could link it to her earlier answer as supplementary to the original answer. That would have been equivalent to neatly tying up all ends.

Although I smiled, the challenge faced by any professional is prioritizing the tasks before them. When you are a follower, you expect your leader to figure it out for you. When you are a leader, you expect your follower to have this ability to figure it out. I have heard people saying "Everything is a priority". It is said in two different tones - one very emphatic with a don't-come-back-to-me message and another helpless with please-figure-it-out message. It is because everything is indeed a priority and has to be done before the unpleasant hits the fan.

Ironically, most of us know about Steven Covey's magic quadrants. In fact, some of us can quote it without batting an eyelid. Yet we struggle to put a task in the appropriate quadrant. What you think is the right quadrant might not be what your boss or your colleague think is the right quadrant. How do we bridge this gap?

Tags: Musings,Priority,Interview,Stephen Covey

12 comments:

  1. The gap is because the meaning of 'urgent' and 'important' may vary for different people. I guess, another word can be used repeatedly then, is 'balance' :)

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    1. Excellent point. How do we understand the different between urgent and important. If you examine, all the requests start with the keyword "urgent".

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    2. We cannot go by what others define as 'urgent'. I figure out what's urgent for me, you figure out yours... back to priorities :)

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    3. This is a vicious circle. :) Now it is all defending my priorities?

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  2. Oh yess! I completely agree. Prioritizing is no child's play and it does make such a huge difference as well..

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    1. How do we prioritize? What is the best mechanism to do so? How do we interpret the word "urgent"? Unless we solve all these, how can we prioritize?

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  3. It's at what point we are standing matters...thing which looks so important today might not be even in our radar few years down....trust me ....empathy as a life skill makes us more capable to face as well as assimilate...sensible post

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    1. In effect, you are suggesting we revisit at periodic intervals to examine the priorities. It makes sense.

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  4. Prioritizing is of utmost importance but it's a real tough job..as Nimi has said..balance is the best option....

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    1. Finding balance is the most difficult part. :)

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  5. Very true. If only people sat down and analysed what work was Urgent and what was important. Since there is no formula for getting it done, I guess we learn only with experience, and till then we have to rely on making mistakes and learning from them.

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    1. Urgent and Important. We all know we have to do this. But how do we know which is urgent and important. I think this is where we fail.

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