The Slack You Cut Others

doormat 500

Question: I have to get sign-off from Safety and Legal before releasing this document, but they aren’t responding to my phone calls and emails. I’m committed to a deadline I can’t meet!

Answer:
You must escalate to management immediately. Include the PM in charge of the project. Don’t try to solve it yourself. Take the long-term view: eventually, EVERYTHING is a self-correcting problem.


The other alternative, taking a non-response as an approval, isn’t always wise. However, if even our own management can’t get a response, at some point someone will have to decide what to do next. This person *should not* be you.

Sometimes this happens because the person you *think* is the approver actually isn’t involved, or has delegated without telling anyone, or is out on leave, or whatever. It happens. Letting go is the best option if you can possibly manage to get this far. (Never worked for me, but there’s always a first time…)

If you get stuck on the end of a chain and have to make it up to meet the original deadline by working late or working weekends… don’t. Resist the pressure to do this because once you let yourself become a doormat, your only reward will be more of the same. It looks like “doing it for the team””but what you’re actually doing is enabling poor process.”

“The slack you cut others can come back to cut YOU.”

Question: That’s great, but my manager’s never around, and if I release this thing without the approvals I’ll be so fired. And it’s due tomorrow!

If you don’t have backup from management, there is no clean way exit this dilemma. But if they’re not paying attention to you anyway, maybe you’ll get lucky and no one will ever notice the lack of approvals! Release the document, stick your fingers in your ears, and mutter “Lalala” under your breath for a few moments, and start updating your LinkedIn profile.

Look on the bright side. You’re in a no-win situation already. Getting fired just means it’s another self-correcting problem.

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