Do You Know How To Say “No”?

IT managers need to have the ability to say "no"
IT managers need to have the ability to say “no”
Image Credit: Nathan Gibbs

If I asked you based on your IT manager training what the most powerful thing that you could say as a part of your job, what would you tell me? “You’re fired?” “You’re hired?” Both of those would be good guesses, but they would be wrong. It turns out that the most powerful thing than any of us IT managers can say is – “no”.

Why What You Are Currently Doing Is Wrong

I know that many times I’ve thought to myself that there simply are not enough hours in the day. However, it turns out that I was wrong. It’s not the number of hours in the day that really matters but rather what we do with the hours that we have that counts.

What researchers have found out is that when we are in situations that have constant interruptions, no matter how good our IT manager skills are, our work will suffer and we’ll be impacted in a variety of ways including changing both our strategies and our mental state. Being interrupted causes our stress levels to increase. In reality, stress comes from being required to shift your attention.

One of the big problems is that most of us realize that what we are currently doing is not working. We’re not as productive as we should be. However, making a change is very hard for us to do. We find it very hard to slow ourselves down in order to meet deadlines that are reasonable. We have spent so much time both being busy and acting busy that it has become addictive.

The Right Way To Be More Productive

So if what we are doing is wrong, then what is the right thing to be doing? It turns out that the answer is to do less. Yes, you heard me correctly – if you want to be more productive, then you need to learn how to do less.

What would this look like? You’d switch off your email so that you were not being notified every time you got another email, you’d turn down invitations to yet another strategy planning meeting, and you’d make sure that you were home for dinner every evening. Get this down and you’ll be a more productive IT manager.

As easy as this sounds to do, it can actually be difficult to do. What it is going to require is a behavioral adjustment on your part. A lot of us will feel a need to keep up appearances that doing less will make difficult to do. We all have a natural inclination to stay busy especially during IT team building activities and we’ll have to fight it if we want to become more productive.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

As IT managers we’d all like to be able to accomplish more. We often feel that if only we had more time, we could get more done. However, in study after study it has been shown that it’s really how productive we are that determines how much we are able to accomplish.

It turns out that the correct way to become more productive is to learn to say “no” more. This means that we find ways to eliminate the distractions from our lives that are causing us to have to switch our attention and increases our stress levels. The challenge that we’ll face when we try to do this is that it will seem unnatural and we’ll want to continue to look busy.

I believe that this is the kind of change that we can become used to over time. It may be a struggle at first as we try to do less in order to become more productive. If we can stay with it and resist the urge to look like everyone else, we just may have found the way to become a highly productive IT manager.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that you should tell anyone what you are doing in order to become more productive?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

The job of every IT manager is to find ways to use your IT manager skills to get the most productive work out of your team. However, your team is made up of a group of very diverse individuals – they really don’t have a lot to do with each other. What this means is that being an IT manager is much more than just telling people what to do, it’s convincing them to work together to accomplish a goal. I don’t believe that there is any IT manager training that can teach us how to do this. Before you can make this happen, you’re going to have to build a team…