When exactly is asap?

Ever been asked to do something ASAP?

Or asked someone else?

It's not a word. But we all know what it means.

Don't we?

Of course we do!

As soon as possible.

That's what the dictionary says.

That's certainly what it stands for. But what does it really mean when someone asks you to do something ASAP?

Does it mean "drop everything else you are doing and get this done before you go home"?

Or, "This is the next thing I want you to do"?

Or maybe, "I still need the other thing I asked you done first, but then do this"?

Is it due today, tomorrow or next week? By close of business or 8 am in the morning?

Without specific information it's really difficult to meet the expectations of an asap request.

I've heard managers talking about people at performance review time and saying that someone fails to meet deadlines. "I ask Alice to do things asap and they're always submitted late". My question is, "Does Alice understand what you mean by asap?"

An ASAP request does not set you up for success. It's ambiguous.

If you don't know when it is, how do you meet the deadline?

I heard a great quote recently "ASAP is not a day or a date". Exactly!

But there is a simple way around this.

"When you are given an ASAP request...ask the questions that will help you be successful"

Find out exactly what is meant by ASAP.

Depending on the amount of work involved or the particular scenario you could ask what time or day is it needed by. If you're working on something else (which you no doubt are ☺) confirm which is the priority.

If the new task is going to impact on other work - let you're manager know that this will have a flow on effect by raising the issue. "I'll get on this straight away and have it back to you by Thursday and the <whatever you're working on> will be ready by Friday afternoon" will go a long way to confirming that you have an exact deadline and the impact that this new task will have on your other work.

Alternatively, if you are in the position where you are asking others to complete work and rearrange priorities

"clarify for others exactly when things are due".

Even better ask some questions to understand how long the task will take and the impact that this will have on other work. When you ask questions sometimes you'll find out things can't be done when you need them. At least you'll know though and can explore alternatives.

If both parties have the same understanding of what ASAP actually means there's a much better chance that expectations and business requirements are going to be met and nobody will get disappointed.

There's too much to do without having to guess your deadlines! Whether you're the manager of the worker - ask questions and clarify!

Have you got an ASAP story to share?

Let's chat!


No comments:

Post a Comment