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Week of 18 September 2017: Be careful how you define your team, part 2

Email Jim at jthompson@taii.com

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Last week we talked about exactly who is defined as part of your team. This was done from the stance of making sure you don't, due to naïve generosity, take on work outside your scope and in the end, do everything poorly. At the same time, you must ward off the outside work without building silos or fortresses that seed discontent.

This week, we will deal with two issues that may come up as you protect your team and strive for excellence in your team's area of responsibility, as well as good relations with all of your coworkers.

Let's start with this situation: your team and you realize you have taken on assignments which you should not have agreed to do. Now you think you are stuck with these forever. Good news--you are not. Call up the person up who dumped their monkey on you and (after pleasantries) say: "We really hoped we could help you out with this assignment, but it is taking away from our core work and is affecting the quality of our outcomes. So, we will be able to do this for you for two more weeks, but by (date certain) we will stop." This person will try to get into what your core work is and what is the definition of quality of your core work. Don't fall for this trap. Block any such conversation and tell them the matter has been decided and that is that. If they have half a brain they know not to go to your boss and try to renegotiate this.

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The other scenario I want to protect you from is the initial act of dumping something on you. The first rule when someone outside your defined team tries to dump something on you is: STALL. Say, "Let me take this up with (our defined team) and see what they say. Then your team discusses it and takes one of the following courses of action: (a) drop it--make the requestor call you back first, or (b) tell them (whether they force a call or you voluntarily call them): "We would like to help you, but we are concerned that taking this on will affect the quality of work demanded in our core mission." Be prepared to define your core mission succinctly and in a way that completely excludes this new work.

Never quickly take on new assignments that are outside your scope or core mission.

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The third scenario is that the person who wants to give you work does an end run and goes to your boss. In this case you tell your boss you will have to think about it--don't just take it on because your boss says so. Tell her that you want to think about it and will get back to her. Then really think about it and depending on the circumstances--you'll have to judge these-- you either go back to her or stall, waiting for her to call again. In the meantime, get your arguments ready to fend off this new work (unless it is something you think will enhance your career with your boss). The two things that will almost always work in these arguments is to bring up the quality and schedule of your current workload. If you can succinctly argue that this new work will affect either of these, you have a chance of fending it off, even with your boss.

For safety this week, last week we talked about how the team expands in a safety incident. A refinement of this is for you to ask the professional in charge of containing the safety incident how you can help. He or she will have many essential tasks that do not require special training, but do need to be done. This may be the most important thing you can do.

Be safe and we will talk next week.

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Jim Thompson is back again...with a new book on a taboo subject: the personalities in the pulp & paper industry. Jim has written in the past on many subjects based on his four plus decades in the worldwide pulp and paper industry. This new book is packed full of information valuable to the senior member of the industry as well as the recent entrant. A must for every pulp and paper library.

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Nip Impressions has been honored for Editorial Excellence by winning a Tabbie Award!

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