At work, we all frequently depend on other people; we need to work with others to get stuff done, so relationships matter a great deal, both internally and externally. I frequently have clients ask me what to do to get others to do what they need to do or what they said they would do, to get stuff done! It can be very frustrating when you are waiting on someone else to come back to you in order for you to progress with your work. In this article I am going to give you some practical tips to help you get what you need from people, without feeling like a ‘nag’.

The starting point has to be thinking about how you respond to other people’s requests, once you are clear on that, you can start to see how others are similar or different to you. A tool that can help you with this is Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies Framework. This framework looks at how individuals respond to both other (outer) and their own (inner) expectations. Essentially, each of us has a propensity to meet both, meet neither or to meet one or the other. You can find out which you are here. The natural assumption is that others think and behave like us, but as we know if we consider things more carefully, that is an incorrect assumption.

You are most likely to be frustrated by others lack of (timely) response if you have a tendency to meet outer expectations i.e. you are an ‘obliger’ or an ‘upholder’. Whilst you can’t do the test on others’ behalf, reading what Gretchen says about the different tendencies may help you work out which profile your colleagues are and help you start to think about how it would be best to deal with them. For instance, if one of the colleagues who frustrates you is probably a ‘questioner’ then you know you need to explain clearly why you are asking for something, they are then more likely to oblige!

Whether or not you can work out where your colleagues fit in the framework, below are some top tips for getting what you need from people to get stuff done, without feeling like you are nagging them. Remember they are not in your head, so agreeing a deadline is important – don’t make everything urgent as if you do, people may see you as disorganised or think that the urgency isn’t real.

Top tips for asking others to do tasks to help you get stuff done

  • Get to know how individuals work, if you know someone leaves things to the last minute or doesn’t get them done quickly, then give a deadline that is a bit earlier than you need.
  • Likewise, if someone isn’t great at managing their emails, give them a call to talk about the request and follow-up with an email to include necessary detail.
  • If the agreed deadline has passed or something has changed to make it more urgent, ask the person what timeframe is doable for them and negotiate if necessary.
  • Ask if there is anything you can do to support them to get it done (closed question i.e. ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer). If ‘yes’ then ask what and facilitate them by giving them what they need. It may be that someone lacks some crucial knowledge to come back to you or they are just struggling to get started.
  • If you are asking for a favour and they agreed but then haven’t delivered, ask them if they are sure it is possible, at which point the answer should give you clarity about whether they are still willing to help or whether you need to find another route.

The other tip is to do all of this speaking to them as another adult, not going into ‘parent’ mode and speaking to them as if they are a child. It is after all a negotiation to get what you need from people when you want it, even in your mind it is something they have to do as part of their role.

If you want to get more stuff done, then you may also like to read my article on the benefits to the person you are asking of delegating, if you find that challenging. Click here to read that article.

If you are still not getting what you need, there are likely to be some deeper issues that need dealing with. If you’d like to see if I can help you, book a complimentary 30 minute Career Booster session with me to talk it over.

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