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#4 I don't know.

Remove I don't know. from your vocabulary.

I can't tell you how often I hear the phrase "I don’t know [how to do that].” Communication is very important in the workplace and when you respond in this manner it comes across as if you are the roadblock in executing a task. I would encourage you to use your resources and figure it out!

It’s ok if you don’t know how to perform a specific task. Most managers don't expect you to know how to do everything from Day 1, but they do expect you to use the resources that are provided to you to figure out how to complete the task successfully. Some of those resources include (but are not limited to): your colleagues, company online trainings, external trainings, Google, YouTube, amongst others.

For example, if your boss asks you to create a pivot table out of a dataset, instead of using a colleague to help you understand how to better use Excel, first look on Google to see if there are helpful videos (obviously only feasible if your company internet restrictions allow searches like this). If you have an Excel expert within the team you could also consider reaching out to them for support.

When your boss gives you a task that you don't know how to complete, my suggestion is to think about how you could complete it: What is the process? What resources are required? How long will it take to complete it? When does it need it completed by? Once you have that information, then you can walk through the steps with your Manager so that they can provide you with feedback. Another option would be to tell them that you have never completed a task like this but you are going to work with XX person to help define the process and required resources given their experience level within this area.

I would argue that you should never let your boss hand the task off to someone else just because you don't know how to complete it. I typically put my foot down when that is brought up and I say, "No. You gave me this task. I'm never going to learn how to do it if I'm not given the opportunity. I will complete this on time and to the quality that you expect." Be confident, but respectful in your response. Then figure out how to do it, when it needs to get done by and do whatever is in your power (ethically!) to submit a superior quality deliverable.

The idea here isn't to add more to your boss's plate but rather to show them that you are resourceful, motivated, and process driven. You'd be surprised what a relief it is when a manager can trust that an employee will be collaborative and driven to ensure a task/project gets completed correctly and on time. Do your manager a favor and take initiative!