Undergraduate Blog / Career Development

Prioritizing Tasks

My internship is taking place within a startup environment with a lot that needs to get done and not a lot of people to do it. Sometimes this causes tasks to get pushed to the back burner while the team focuses on more important tasks at hand. The ability to juggle all of these tasks and identify which ones need to be taken care of when requires a skilled project manager. But even with all the project management skills in the world, one still needs to understand the implications surrounding each task. Throughout my experience, it seems that the two most important factors when choosing what to work on are essential functions and people.

Every company has certain tasks which are essential to the core of what the company does. If this tasks are not completed the company may not be able to do perform their main goal such as bring product to market or process payments. These tasks are typically obvious to those within the company as needing to be completed and hold priority. That means that before anything else is started, these tasks need to be completed or need to be prepared to execute if needed. Many companies have departments which are responsible for a few essential tasks each.

The second priority is what was most surprising to me and I think spoke the most to building a successful company with a desirable company culture. It had to do with the way people are prioritized. Within the company I work for, no matter what you are doing, if the phone rings, you answer it. The person on the phone’s time is more important than the task which I am in the middle of. This is also evident in how the first thing we do every day is reply to any messages or emails the company has. This type of company is built from the top down. The CEO is always willing to drop whatever he is doing if an employee needs to talk about something. This extreme prioritization of the employees by the CEO and customers by the employees creates a company that not only people want to work for, but also people want to do business with.