At the Office, Don't Assume Everything

 ( 7 min read ) 

At the office. Its important to communicate, and assumptions are the opposite of communcation.

Assumptions lead to missed deadlines, errors, and wasted time. Someone can think that a task is being worked on since no one replied the email in the last week but is that actually true?

Here’s a few areas to keep in mind when working, and some reasons why it benefits you to not assume everything.

Don’t assume your team knows when you take vacation or a sick day. And for international teams that includes Holidays in your country too. (Because not everyone celebrates the 4th of July!) Some places have scheduler tools, calendars, or methods for setting vacation days in advance. However they don’t always notify the right folks. Be sure to send an email out the week of or week in advance, depending on your work. Send a note to your team as well. That way, work can be divided and conquered while you’re gone instead of waiting for your return. However this leads me to my next point.

Don’t assume your team will pick up the slack when you’re out of the office. Help reassign work if its urgent, or divide it if its a large task. Give pointers or notes on what you did so far and share documentation that you found or created. Leaving this to your manager to reassign work is not nice. Sure you might say “_Well t_hat is part of their job”… but by helping reassign work you’re being pro-active and show that you’re thinking ahead. It shows you care about the job, and the results.

Its like a game of hot potato. You sit in a circle, and one person tosses a potato to the next person, and they toss it again to the next. But if you’re on vacation and didn’t tell anyone, they’ll toss to you… only to watch the potato hit the floor. Don’t be that person who disappears. Don’t drop the potato.

Don’t assume someone knows X or Y technology. Especially among teammates. Handing over a Java app to a newcomer? Be willing to teach them how to use Maven/Gradle if they never used it before. Or have documentation created to guide them on just the specific steps. You’ll be helping save their time and yours. Instead of having dozens or hundreds of emails, chats, back and forth whenever a question arises. Just be willing to share your knowledge and help and ask if they understand each technology/stack invovled in the project.

This last one is the most important.

Don’t assume your manager knows what you do day-to-day. Give them status updates if they don’t ask frequently enough or have a set time to discuss status. Say you started working on a new app to reduce time on SQL reporting and emailing back and forth excel files… tell your manager. Sometimes we work on things and keep our heads down without telling anyone. And sure maybe your manager might take it away. And reprioritize you on other work, or maybe they’ll like what you started and allow you to work on it more instead. Point being; don’t assume they will approve it once they see it in action. You could be wasting each others time. And it could’ve been avoided if more communication was happening.

Keeping track of your work in a file can be used for promotion evidence too. If you keep your manager up-to-speed on your accomplishments, it only makes getting a promotion easier. That way, your manager can vouch for you when managers come together to see which workers deserve a raise. Your manager will share your list, and speak confidently about you. Without the status updates or list, your manager may not know everything you’ve done for the company. And you could be overlooked for a promotion.

Bonus Tip, for Managers…

Don’t assume your employees know what you do day-to-day. Give them status updates. Send out weekly email summaries, or share your status in the team’s conference call, after all the team members share their status. Sometimes managers work on things that are not technological, but critical to a project. Maybe they’re attempting to close a deal with a client. Or negotiating SLAs with other departments. Team members can learn from you and give them a “bigger picture” of what the hell is actually happening on projects.

Maybe a project requires a Database Administrator when you have none on your team. But if you bring this up during status calls, you might be surprised to learn that Average Joe over there has been studying and working towards a DBA Certification on his own time. Turns out, he would fit perfectly and jumpstart the project early. Its a win-win! And its brought up simply by being transparent about your status updates and NOT assuming no one has DBA skills on your team.

Bottom line. Don’t leave your employees to assume that you do nothing but bark orders. You work just as hard as anyone else and deserve to share updates about it too. And they deserve to hear all about it. Don’t assume they know what you do everday, because quite honestly, lots of programmers are very “heads down” and focused in their code being perfect. (Including myself!)

Published: Jul 7, 2017
Category: workplace
Tags: office, workplace