1 min read

Make Progress or Take Care of Business?

I've been realizing more and more how many roles have ongoing responsibilities that aren't directly "goal" related.

When push comes to shove, those ongoing responsibilities often trump the goal work. It's a dilemma because the ongoing responsibility is typically very important and can also bubble over into an urgent state. Bingo! It's in the magic quadrant and required attention!

For example, customer support agents have an "evergreen responsibility" to support their customers.

Content marketers have their weekly blog to release. SDRs have their call quota. Accountants have the monthly reconciliation to do. QA has the queue of code to test, and so on. But many of these people also have goals that require focused attention and effort.

So what happens when push comes to shove and you have to pick one. Goal or task? Take care of business or make longer-term progress? Often, the urgent thing gets the attention and the less urgent thing gets set aside.

Here's the rub: You show up the next week and have to stare at the goal that you didn't make any progress toward with "nothing to show for it". But you weren't lazy or inefficient with your time. The time was all used up doing the primary responsibility of your work -- the important, urgent thing! We don't talk about this though, we talk about the goal that hasn't progressed. The urgent thing is forgotten, the lack of progress is pointed out and you feel bad.

The efforts you put in are invisible.

As managers, we need to dignify the invisible work while also spotting ways to help the important, (seemingly) non-urgent work to get done. If we only point out the lack of goal progress without acknowledging the tradeoff required to make that progress, we're living in a dream world.