Is This An Easy Job?

This was one of the questions related to us during a Welding Metallurgy course I attended in Brunel University as part of my training at Allied Steel & Wire. It was the advice given to us by the lecturer in answer to this question when someone wants to know whether a welding job was easy or not: never admit that a job is easy. It’s a response that has proven to be invaluable even outside the field of welding, e.g. when someone wanted to develop a certain IT system.

The standard response to his type of question is never to admit that a job is easy, but instead suck in the air through your teeth, followed by an “oooooh”, thereby implying that, whilst the job is not impossible, it’s going to take some doing. The reason why ? First of all, the requester usually has no way of knowing what is easy and what isn’t – in fact, when it comes to IT requests they often think that the easy jobs are hard and vice versa.

So if anyone approaches you with “I’ve got a small request, it shouldn’t take long” your knee-jerk reaction has to be “Let me be the judge of that”. The reason for managing expectations (not just in welding or IT, but in any field that requires an expert hand to accomplish the task) is that if you imply from the start that a job is not easy to accomplish, you’re onto a winner: if you manage to satisfy the request, all the more kudos to you for accomplishing the near-impossible. If, on the other hand, you fail, you have made the way clear to your fall-back position and gives you the cop-out clause “I told you it wasn’t easy”.

It’s what is called a “win-win situation” in management-speak.

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