1. Priorities. I never expect to be anyone’s top priority – except my own of course. All I’ve ever wanted is to know, definitively where I fall on the spectrum of importance. My projects don’t tend to be flashy, they’re not always the high visibility ones, they’re the ones that tend to go along unnoticed and unremarked (unless something goes horribly wrong). They’re the workhorse projects that just need to get done with a minimum of trouble. They’re sort of a personal specialty of mine. While most of them motor along without much intervention, that doesn’t mean they always will. Occasionally I’m going to fire off a red star cluster. I like to think my track record shows that I’m not just doing it to get attention – but because there’s an honest to God problem somewhere in the works. But if I’m going to be dumped into the “yeah, yeah, we’ll get to you later” pile, I will plan and execute accordingly.
2. I am not the decider. Call as often as you want. Try to drop names to intimidate or influence me. Have your boss “follow-up.” See, the thing is I’m not the decider. In fact you’d be alarmed if you knew how little authority I had to do anything at all. My job is to provide analysis, advice, and recommendations. What people do with those once I provide them, I can’t and won’t answer for. I’ve gotten very adept at standing like a stone wall in the face of bitching and complaints. I can do it all day every day and not so much as raise my voice. If you need to talk to someone who’s going to “feel your pain,” you called the wrong number… but feel free to have your boss call and I’ll tell him the same thing.
3. Working lunch. No, I’m not going to consider a pack of crackers and a Coke scarfed down at my desk at 2:00 in the afternoon while trying to catch up on email “taking my lunch.” I’ll take lunch during socially agreed time of day for the mid-day meal or I’ll take it off the end of the day. It’s not optional and not a topic open to debate. In neither case will it be a “working” lunch. If people can’t figure out not to schedule meetings back to back or let them run 45 minutes over in the middle of the day, other, eminently practical provisions will be made, as rest assured I value nothing so highly as my own time.