How do I manage a workflow that is dependent on other people?
December 13, 2011 1:07 PM Subscribe
How do I manage a workflow that is dependent on other people's efforts? My (mostly administrative) job requires that I do things that are frequently dependent on the contributions and/or approval of other people, who frequently can't/don't/won't complete tasks in a timely manner. What do I do? (Details inside)
There are actually a few issues I need help with:
- Tips and tricks for managing a to-do list that involves a lot of "I did my step, now I'm waiting for soandso, but I don't want to just check this as done in case soandso forgets/ignores me." I am frequently in a situation where someone wants something urgently from me, and it is important for me to get it to them, but the person who actually needs to do something (sign a document, approve a purchase order, etc.) has relatively little incentive to do what I want in a timely manner. Often they themselves are overworked, and have other priorities. How can I incentivize them to do what I need? I have some experience with GTD and it seemed overly complicated for my needs, but maybe I just wasn't introduced to it properly?
- Related to the above, how do I prioritize what really needs to be done now, versus what can slide? (Often my boss is not clear about this.)
- My boss is easygoing, knowledgeable, and helpful, but is himself overcommitted and frequently can not or does not devote the time required to the sub-portion of his responsibilities that is my whole job. Certain interactions that are critical for my workflow really need to be handled at his level (requesting certain favors from other department heads, for example, as well as certain kinds of oversight that I don't have the expertise to responsibly do), but I often feel like I'm pushing and pushing him to do this stuff.
- My job involves having to follow a lot of bureaucratic rules/TPS report type stuff that often generates a lot of cognitive dissonance for me. I am not in a position to do much to improve the situation, and see this as a job that makes possible other unrelated personal short-term requirements, not a long-term career. So how do I deal with it day-to-day without losing my mind at the inefficiency/stupidity? Put differently, how do I cope with a reactive risk-averse bureaucracy? To be clear, I am not dealing with ill-willed or purposefully unhelpful people, just droids.
I've tried to avoid details as much as possible to protect the guilty. Please memail me for a specific detail.
I did see some good advice here
, but it's not exactly what I'm asking.
TL;DR - Everyone is too busy, and it's my problem. What do I do?