Kelly Updike for PCNRC
Over the past month, I’ve had a variety of staffers in my office. Individually, in groups, in tears, in anger. Tired. Discussing projects, deadlines, budgets, goals, each other.
Oh, and I caught a fever and felt completely useless for about two weeks. Allergies. A cold. Flu? Ugh. It’s never the right time to be off work.
All this happened while the Embassy was in the midst of celebrating its $10 million renovation project, which was decades in the making and finally, finally seeing fruition.
We are proud. We are also crabby.
You are in the same shape, I bet: Feeling you are blessed while also wondering what the heck is wrong with people, holy cow!
What to do? Well, it took some thought, but we went back to our same-old, same-old:
- Slow down.
- Keep talking.
- Write it down.
Life moves too fast and there is too much to do. Our staff has been encouraging each other to celebrate accomplishments. Remember that old phrase about stopping to smell the roses? Yeah, do that with the flowers in your own garden! And, then, by talking with teammates and checking the calendar, our staff also is encouraging each other to pause. Take a deep breath. Figure out what’s really important to do next. It does take time to do the right things in the right order.
Communication is the root of every success and every problem. I am blessed to work with terrific people, from staff to volunteers to board members. Keeping everyone on the same page is desperately important, so we have to make time to write emails, make calls and take meetings. Working in silos is so 1990s.
The last point is one I have to defend all the time because everyone thinks it is lame. Au contraire! Write down your plans: Make a list of the tasks for your project. Add columns to list who is responsible for doing each task and by what date. Distribute this document and update your progress. What is this amazing thing called? A checklist! Yes, that’s the lame-o part. It’s just so darn simple.
We routinely have to train staffers to write down procedures and plans. And then to use the checklist and keep it updated. This is not their favorite thing to do. They will tell you that you are old-fashioned. They will tell you they don’t have time. They will lie about updating the checklist until you ask to see it. This, however, is the organization’s lifesaver. Every time. It’s like a miracle mop, it just works. It’s a great communications method, it covers all the bases. And a checklist is a great training tool for new staffers. It’s also a great reminder for old hands.
Checklists are so terrific that I have them for myself. My top two favorites: A list of building inspections and maintenance tasks broken down into each month of the year and my checklist for board meeting preparations.
We’re not disgustingly cheerful at the Embassy but we have regained our composure. Instead of passing around tissues, we are back to passing around checklists.
The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Embassy or the PCNRC.