I’ve been a student of human behavior pretty much my whole life. I’ve always watched people. But it’s possible to look and not see. I mean really see. However, getting into the recruiting business twenty years ago has provided me with a PhD in human behavior. I now can see things about people that they can’t even see themselves.
The concept of priorities is a fascinating one. Perhaps more than anything else, it communicates the essence of a person. People prioritize what is important to them. And it’s always a matter of degree. Many things are important to us – our health, our loved ones, our job, our possessions…our own personal comfort [that’s a big one].
I’ve decided that most people don’t know how to prioritize. Oh, they think they do. But they don’t. Sometimes it’s simple – they’ve never been taught. Beyond that, it gets muddier…laziness, weak critical thinking skills, lack of discipline, can’t say “no”, poor time management or lack of transparency/honesty.
What’s the lack of transparency/honesty all about? This is a sneaky one…a slippery one. Most people over-promise and under-deliver. The error is in communication and managing expectations. We all have many priorities. But, as an old mentor once told me, “If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.” Wise words. If you have seven priorities, then rank them. And communicate. I’d much rather have a client, or a candidate tell me something like this:
“Kent, getting this resume to me (or this job description, or this offer letter) is a priority for me. However, I’ve got three things that are an even higher priority. So, I won’t be able to get it to you until this Friday.”
That’s SO MUCH better than, “I’ll have it to you right away. Thanks.”
If you are honest with people, it’s amazing how understanding and flexible they can be. We all have priorities. We’re all busy. Step back, rank your priorities and manage everyone’s expectations. You’ll be happier and so will the people you work with and for.