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Extension requests and how to deal with them

In the modern economy where time is money, aren’t we all broke? How many times have we noticed that being “busy” has become a common expression for most when they are asked how they are doing. 

Employees today experience high levels of time stress at work, undermining their health, happiness, and productivity. In a survey by the online job platform of over 1,000 working employees, frequent deadlines were identified as the most common cause of work stress (30%), the feeling of not having enough time to complete one’s tasks is a prevalent issue in organizations.

Extension Request as a Signal of Incompetence

Extension requests may be seen as a type of employee voice (i.e. speaking up with suggestions for improvement), and in turn fascilitates more engagement in the team.

Employees mostly avoid an Extension request, because they believe that their supervisors will judge them as more incompetent and unintelligent for their mistakes in task performance than is actually the case.

However, as per a study at Harvard: 95% of employees who asked their supervisors for a deadline extension were granted one. Furthermore, 59.9% of employees reported that the deadline for the task that they most recently asked an extension for was set based on the preferences of their supervisor, team members, or themselves as opposed client preferences or external deadlines that would be difficult to adjust for. Extension requests might therefore be a powerful means to gain time, reduce time pressure, and improve the quality of one’s work.

So how do we make extension requests productive?

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute

If you are certain that you want an extension then you should do it as early as possible. Waiting until the last moment may not be a very good impression on your supervisors as they might think that you were just procrastinating.

Try and make sure that the work you were assigned is not atleast sitting at zero still waiting to be started while raising an extension request, so that it doesn’t look similar to the scenario where you say that “dog ate your homework”. Don’t be afraid of a follow up meeting and use it as an opportunity to explain how you are managing your workloads.

Have a Genuine Reason

Another thing that you should make sure is that you put across a genuine reason for getting the extension. Got another high priority project where shit started hitting the fan and needs your attention. That’s usually a good reason for extension requests.

Set a Reasonable New Deadline

As mentioned before, extension requests are not evil. However, consider this scenario: You mail your supervisor that you will need anther day to deliver the milestone and a day after you send another mail requesting extension of another day on top of it. Needless to say, this is one of the best ways to make the deadlines work against you and hence result in stress.

Take Steps to Prevent it From Happening Again

You asked for an extension and were granted one (at least in 95% of cases as per Harvard’s study). Make your that you are able to present a proper assessment of the failure and the action items to make sure the same failure can be avoided in the future for the team and yourself.

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