3 Secrets To Get What You Need From Your Colleagues

How do you get what you need from your colleagues in order to do your job in the most efficient manner?

If you are working in an office, there will be a number of occasions where you will need colleagues to do certain things. This could be because you are in a team and you can’t progress your part of the work until they have done theirs. Or you need approval from them. Or maybe, you need them to do their job better, so they rely on you less.

In any case if they do their part better or on time, you can be more efficient in your role. I don’t know about you, but I have a very full-on role, and I don’t have time to waste. So let me share with you how I deal with these challenges so that you can get what you need from your colleagues.

Invest in your colleagues

One the best-known keys to efficiency and productivity is: do less and delegate more. You don’t have anyone you can delegate to? No problem. Empower your colleagues to do their best by coaching them to bring their best game to you. The less they rely on you, the more time you have to focus on where you bring the most value to your company.  

Let me give you an example. In my current position, I am a subject matter expert. This means that my colleagues come to me with questions in my field of expertise. This means that I can be dealing with a large range of questions, some of them could be answered by people with less expertise.

When someone comes to me with a question, I have 2 options:

  1. I can give them the short answer without explaining why to “get rid” of them quickly. This will solve the immediate problem, but as they do not know why I answered as I did, they will come to me with the same question over and over again; or
  2. I can give them the answer and the bigger picture so that they understand why I got to this decision. It will take a little longer in that moment, but it will save me a lot of time in the long term. 

Train your colleagues so they rely on you less

By training my colleagues as and when something comes up, I support their development, it empowers them to speak to the client with knowledge (which makes the company looks better), they are grateful for the training which will help them in their career and more importantly, they will come to me less often and with better questions.

They will be able to work things out for themselves and only come to me when something become difficult, or when they need my formal approval in accordance with company governance.  

Train your colleagues so they make your job easier

I also coach my colleagues on how to prepare their request for approval in a way that makes it easy for me to make a decision quickly.

For some reason, approvals are always needed urgently. If people come to me with only half of the relevant information, I have to go back and ask further questions. This can go on for a while and their approval goes from urgent to extremely urgent.

But if they come to me with a full brief, I can make a decision straight away, winning time for all.

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Ask for what you need

As a natural follow on from the section above, what about when you need approval?

If you need approval from your manager in order to move something forward, make it happen. Your boss is probably just as busy as you are so if you leave it to them, your request will probably end up last on the priority list. And that is simply because someone is shouting louder than you.

The key to get attention, without being a pest, is to send an email with all the information they need to make a decision, together with a recommendation, and set up a call for the next day. This way they have time to read the email.

What is most likely to happen is that on receipt of your call invite, they will read your email and give you approval or feedback straight away. It will save the need for a call and you got your decision straight away. Easy!     

So don’t be shy, be clear about what you need, and make it as easy as possible for the other person to give you a yes.

On the theme of asking for what you want, I thought Real Men Real Style  had an interesting male perspective on this topic, which compliment nicely my advice: How To Ask For (And GET) What You Want…EVERY TIME | 5 Tips For Getting To YES.

Be nice

Being nice is so underrated! Make people want to deal with your request first, because they know you appreciate their support.

I am not ashamed to say that I am biased towards nice colleagues. I receive a lot of request for support, questions, approvals ALL DAY LONG. Some of the names appearing in my inbox will make me frown, some will make me smile. Which email to do think I open first?

I have a colleague who is lovely, competent, she respects my time and appreciate the support I give her. When I deal with something for her quickly, she always shows her appreciation. She acknowledges that I am busy and knows I made an effort to turn things around as fast as possible. She only says something is urgent when it actually is. She gives me time to deal with her requests. When an email from her comes in, I gladly deal with it as soon as reasonably practicable and keep her updated of progress.    

At the opposite end of the spectrum, I have a colleague who always goes to the head of my team first, then sends me orders and expect me to drop everything to deal with her work. Well, let’s just say I tend to put her last on my priorities list, after time recording and filing. And half of the time I simply ignore her emails. I am only human.

So which person do you want to be? The person whose request is dealt with first or last?

Get what you need from your colleagues – key take-aways

  1. Invest in your colleagues
  2. Ask for what you need – in the right way
  3. Be nice 😊

Try these simple steps and let me know how you get

How do YOU get what you need from your colleagues? What works well for you? I’d love to hear your stories. Let me know in the comments.

Further resources

My favourite book on dealing with people:  How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This article is part of the series Happier At Work, which you can find here.

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