Getting ahead of the curve is what we all want – at work, in life. Competition at workplaces has made employees take on a lot of responsibilities which are anyway more than what they can handle. And the icing on the cake is when they are entrusted with more projects with limited time. The predicament of the employees begin here – whether to say ‘yes’ or to simply say ‘no’.
The dilemma is because of the pitfalls associated with saying ‘no’. In the power struggle, ‘no’ is challenging the superiors – something that the bosses never want to hear from their subordinates. The impact of ‘no’ can be of different consequences – An employee who is otherwise hardworking and diligent might not be considered for important projects in future; his/her promotions get affected due to reasons like ‘shirking responsibilities’, ‘not a team-player’, and many other.
But in order to be productive and successful, it is imperative to take on projects which one can handle in the given time and can be delivered properly. Saying ‘No’ becomes important on occasions. The problem is how? ‘No’ is a completely negative word, yet an important one to make yourself heard.
Here are 5 ways you can turn down more work:
Be positive in saying the negative
While a direct ‘no’ is not something that a boss would like to hear, it’s better to turn it around in the positive way. Saying “I can do this, but...” explaining your reasons will be a subtle way of putting it across to your boss.
Ask for help
You are already working on 3 or 4 projects. And you know how long you will take to finish each one of them. You have your calendar worked out according to that. And exactly at this point, your boss comes and tells you about a big project that needs to be finished just about at the time of other projects. So what will you do? Ask for his help. Yes, there is a reason why he is the boss. Simply tell him, “Yes, I am ready for the big challenge. Yet, I need to finish my existing ones whose deadlines are nearing, and your assistance will be of huge help for the projects.”
Give alternative suggestions
Bosses look for solutions. The idea behind entrusting you with that important project was he/she trusts you. But when you dismiss that option citing your own reasons, it’s an uncomfortable position for the supervisor. But you can turn this negative feeling around by giving him alternative options, solutions – who can do it better, collaboration from different teams can be sought, availability of your time at any given point during the project completion – are options you can suggest. This will alleviate the tension and anxiety of your boss. And a ‘no’ will become positive for your job.
Being honest upfront
It’s a different high when bosses take your name in a meeting to assign an important deliverable to you. A roomful of your colleagues, and you getting that coveted project. It is essential to accept upfront, after the project line-up has been discussed, to either seek help from your superiors or naming a few colleagues who would assist you in the project. Since you are aware of your limitations of time, accepting it will not do harm. Just imagine, basking in the glory of your boss’s trust and then failing to deliver projects on time.
Turning down an important project is a clash of opinions – your boss wants you to do it, but you are choosing not to do it because of various reasons though. Since this clash of opinion might impact on the productivity of your work and your boss’s, it is advisable to choose a time which is conducive for discussion. Butting into your boss’s cubicle when he/she is on the phone, interfering when he/she is busy will only worsen the situation. Send an email or a text asking for a time to discuss about the project; meanwhile make points about your refusal, keep in mind the other workable options. In the meeting, you discuss at length and come to a solution before coming out.
The idea is to let your boss know about your inability to take the project because of viable reasons. In more ways than one, the message you should convey to your boss is that your are responsible to take on work, motivated and also you know your limitations – and all these for the benefit of the organisation you work for!