- tell your boss “yes boss I will take care of it” and then when Monday morning comes you tell him “sorry, I tried but I couldn’t get it done...” and then wait for him to fire you?
- tell your boss “yes boss I will take care of it”, throw your professional standards and pride off the window and “proudly” deliver a shoddy piece of work on Monday morning and wait for him to shower you with appreciation before he realizes that what you delivered was crap and fires you?
- tell your boss “this can’t be done” and that he is an idiot for trying to impose such an unreasonable order and just resign from your job?
- you assure your boss that you understand the urgency of the matter and politely ask for permission to go sit down in your corner, come up with a game plan and then meet with the boss to go over your plan?
Well, this is a no brainer you would say – yes, I know I don’t need to tell you that #4 is the best choice but I have seen enough programmers choose 1 and 2 and less frequently choose 3 that I believe a reminder can’t hurt. While number 4 is the obvious choice it is not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when you are under pressure.
A small clarification - when I say that all three options 1, 2 and 3 will result in you getting fired I am exaggerating a bit to make the point but even if you don’t get fired at the very least your reputation will be severely damaged.
Choosing option 4 is a testament to your professionalism and experience. It gives you the much needed time to break the job down into more manageable and easier to estimate tasks. While doing that you may discover that it is possible to get it done by the deadline if certain resources are made available to you which would be great! But, even if your initial intuition / estimate is proven right and the job can not possibly be done you go back to your boss with an action plan that details what can be done by the deadline and when the whole job can be completed. At that point your boss has the ammunition he needs to go back to his boss and secure an extension of the deadline or modify the requirement / scope of the job so that you can deliver what may be the most critical part of the job by the deadline. Details aside, this approach leads to “happy endings” – the boss will respect you a lot more and chances are that he will never again tell you that “it must be done by Monday” but will rather ask for your professional opinion on what maybe doable and what not.
Tell me what you think – feel free to leave your comments here.