Managers can’t help asking for status reports. It’s just one of the things we have to do when we’re asked a question we can’t answer with our brains or the tools at hand. We usually don’t think of them as status reports, we just ask a question like “Hey, Pat, when is Project X going to ship?” And that’s when the trouble begins. It turns out, asking for an unexpected status update for a project immediately increases the perceived priority of that project.
In high school, I took a class called “Computer Troubleshooting.” This may sound like a weird class for a 16-year-old to take or a high school to offer, but in practice it was savvy: the school netted a built-in, small workforce for IT support and repairs. Nothing like a little free labor to make things go. Going in, I didn’t think I’d learn anything and when I finished I felt the same way.