6 Bad Ways of Conveying Urgent Tasks (And How to Fight Them)

Sometimes, due to the high urgency of issues, the owners of tasks are not patient enough to use your standardized way of filing a ticket in your issue tracking system. Instead, they resort to various ways of conveying the new task to you or your team, disrupting your seamless ticket flow. Here’s a list of some of their favored weapons (from least devastating to most):

  • Send an email
  • Send an Instant Message
  • Call you on Skype
  • Call you on your mobile
  • Walk over to your desk
  • Make your boss do one of the aboveIn The Importance of Having a Seamless Ticket Flow, I explained why it’s a bad idea to break the standard flow of issues. As if such disturbances weren’t bad enough, sometimes people seem to campaign directly against your productivity. They not only disturb you, but they even start a few routing skirmishes in support of their case (given in no specific order):
  • Cite some experts on how bad this is or how urgently we need to address this
  • Call in some experts to make everyone aware of how bad and important this is
  • Create a feeling of despair by ensuring everyone, that you will not be able to fix this
  • Promise some fancy (but completely useless) bonus to you
  • Call your wife to tell her that you’ll need to stay longer in the office todayI understand if it seems like “blocking” or “unwillingness” if the operations team fights off yet another “super urgent” issue request, and I know this can lead to frustration on the side of the people who really need it. However, its not easy for anyone to see the implications of such instant gratification. Such implications are either really hard or too time-consuming to explain. Nevertheless, I don’t see any good reason for taking most of the routing actions described above. While it’s definitely a good idea to ask or even call in some experts if you’re in over your head, do it in an open and agreed upon fashion. Telling your team they’re failing to deliver is sometimes a harsh necessity, but telling outsiders who then might even make a surprise visit is incredibly destructive. And I won’t even talk about interfering in someone’s personal life.

    The only thing you can do whenever you sense one of the above plots unfolding is to declare open war and fight against it with all your strengths and beliefs. Never silently accept any attack on your professionality. Sure, it’s always wise to look for any valid points to learn about your own weaknesses, but there is a thin line between professional feedback and an attack. Sometimes such attacks come disguised as “I just want to help” or “I only want what’s best for the team” or “It had to be said once”. The negative aspects of “the next great thing” may be hard to identify, so try to argue very carefully about it. Raise your points in a calm voice and stay away from heated discussions. As soon as things get emotional, you lose. Stand your ground by relying on your logical analysis of complex situations and find reasonable solutions for your team’s problems.

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