When I worked in-house last, there was a problem. It’s not something big and shady behind the scenes, like embezzling. No one was stealing as far as I know.
The problem was that the leadership said things were important, then never followed that important up with resources.
Sure I had a 1 year old iMac and any software I really needed, but you know what resource I didn’t have, time. In the morning I’d be told that task A was my main focus for the day. Then at lunch task B would be something to get done by the end of the day. Maybe I’d even get told about task C by the end of the day. Then the next day there was a new focus item.
If it’s all important
Yes, team leaders if you tell your staff that everything is important and an A priority then nothing is really going to be important to them. They’ll catch on that you have no idea how to come up with priorities and start to ignore you when you say something in important.
I’m guessing that’s not your goal.
So start to filter yourself. If you think something is important, ask a team member what else they are doing for the day first. Then filter your request based on the importance of the other tasks.
Even better if you can track what’s on everyone’s plates via some software, just take a look yourself at what they are doing. Then put your new task on in the proper priority.
Your job as a boss/team leader is to filter the priorities to your team properly.
When something is a real priority run interference on everything else, so that your team has the proper time to actually get the job done.
If you’re stuck with the important syndrome
Okay you’re not the manager but you have to deal with this. How do you deal with it?
The best tool I had to combat this continually changing priority was asking my boss to take something off my list. Yup, I’d show them my list for the day (which I took the time write down on paper) and ask them which item could come off my list for the day so that I could accomplish the new task.
90% of the time the boss would look at my list and that important item they just told me about was not nearly as important as the things already on my list.
In fact, about 50% of the time they’d say “oh never mind we don’t actually need to do it now”.
Yup, they’d tell me the important task wasn’t important at all in the grand scheme. It was simply an idea of the moment, that had no filter at all on it.
Make sure that you’re always focusing on the things that are actually important each day. Make sure you reserve your drop everything, this is important for times that it’s actually the case or your team will just start ignoring you.