Guys I just feel so confused about those "urgent" tasks. any advice?

Hello everyone,

I'm currently working as a junior analyst in a boutique IB with a small team of around 10 people. I've encountered some challenges recently and would greatly appreciate your advice.

Here is the situation:

I was assigned to Project A, but Director informed me that it wasn't urgent and reassigned me to Project B. Later, I was shifted to Project C with a specific deadline, as the MD supposedly wanted it completed.

However, it turns out that the MD had no knowledge of these project rearrangements and questioned why I hadn't focused on Project A yesterday. And no one has reviewed my deliverables for Project C, and this has happened multiple times. 

Before that, director gave me a two-day deadline for Project D, claiming it was super urgent. While I was working on Project D, MD suddenly blamed me for not working on another project. I asked the Director for next steps, which resulted in him scolding me and accusing me of laziness. He then told me he would no longer be involved with Project D and that it was now all my problem. Despite completing the final draft and everything, no one actually reviewed it for both projects. (till today)

Last week, I was told that a task was "urgent" and needed to be done "tonight." I had to allocate a few hours of my time from my current project to work on it. However, when I messaged the senior who assigned me the task around 11 pm for key figures, he read and disappeared. I waited for an hour and then reached out to Director, but received no response. I waited until 2 then I turned off my PC.(with no messages from anyone). And the next day I was told this one was not urgent. 

I apologize for the long story. I just want to write down the whole thing. I sat down for a while and cannot figure out, 

I really appreciate any advice or suggestions you may have. 

You’ve learned a valuable lesson today. You just need to internalize it and do better. What’s the lesson?

“Everyone’s work is ‘urgent’ because they all think they’re special snowflakes, but as a junior banker, part of your job is triaging all of that, determining what is actually urgent and what is actually not, and proactively communicating these things in a concise way up the chain of command so they can either deprioritize it in their heads or farm it out to someone else.”

That’s your lesson. You need to have a sense and a logic with how important every single one of your tasks actually was. Was it a gating factor for the process? Was it just nice to have? You need to turn your head into a Gantt chart. Your instincts on this need to get sharper. At first, you may not able to do this, but ask some associates in an open-minded way a few times, and you should get the hang of it.

EDIT: Few more lessons. Sometimes the seniors will get upset with you because someone above you failed to communicate something or played it off like they already knew. This is not your fault, but you need to take some stuff on the chin. Other thing is if you’re having issues, don’t message the director at 11. It reeks of bad time management and is either something that should have been said earlier or not at all.

Much appreciate your message bro. Super helpful.

yup, I know it is a bad idea to message D late at night, but if this is really "urgent" and I would be blamed for "not texting" him. My company account run into problems and had no access to files that night. I had to text senior for key figures. 

Most Helpful

This happens a lot at boutiques where each MD eats what they kill and gets paid a commission. There's no sense of centralized planning/prioritization, each MD feels that their deal (no matter how early stage or far fetched) is the most important deal and doesn't gain anything from you working on other MD's deals. 

As such you get pulled in a lot of different directions by a lot of different people and have to learn how to communicate with everyone to avoid these pitfalls. Ie, let's say MD 1 tells you that Project A is your highest priority. Then MD 2 comes and tells you fuck Project A, you need to work on Project B. You need to specify to MD 2 that MD 1 has given you different instructions and go back to check with MD 1 before you deprioritize his stuff. 

It's a mess sometimes and you're never going to do perfect by everyone. Just try your best, over communicate like a mofo and have a good attitude. Some of your MDs might bitch at you occasionally but realistically they probably understand why this stuff happens and realize that you're doing your best. After all, HR and staffing is above your paygrade. If there aren't enough juniors in the building to prioritize everything at once that's more on your bosses for playing it cheap than it is on you for not being able to split yourself into three and prioritize everything at once. 

That is my heartfelt thanks; I much appreciate your reply. Most of the time I was assigned by Director. I didn't know the whole story such as when the director told me Project A was not important, I thought it was his communication result with MD then it turn out to be his assumption. (He also has his own smaller deals, so he wanted me to work on his). I tried to communicate and go back to check but got shit-talking by D. I also talked to MD before, but he told me to talk to D and he is not responsible for execution arrangements (at least for junior analysts like me). Do you think it would be helpful if I tried to speak with MD again?

You're junior, if it's urgent regardless of circumstance, the best you do is point blank say, I'm currently working on y, does this override that and fine with the other person? Then you do the work. That's it. We all did it, handled it, and figured it out. Builds character while losing hair. Also just take note on time mgmt for the future, and you read the people to anticipate it so you're ahead of the game and know what blew ass and try to not do it when you get to that point (you prob will though,  I know I have repeatedly).

Just don't whils or make a stink. Some MBA did this recently and it was wildly frustrating and took all my strength to not get a 1 way ticket to  an HR complaint.

Thanks, I appreciate that. The struggle is sometimes when I try to say "Hi, I am working on A now and MD told me to work on B, I feel like I cannot handle both." I find out they don't care and don't want to communicate with each other. once I got a reply saying "I don't accept no for this request. I set DDL and it is your problem to fix that". Would you suggest I talk to the more senior guy in my firm in this case? Thx

I'll be blunt to ya cuz I think that helps the most, saying "I feel... " might be one of the worst to say outside of a flat no. You automatically piss off the MD, and it shows weakness when you need to show strength, etiquette, and giving off a sense of politick and composure (to be clear, have your pissed off and angry vent sessions not in the moment and away with your fellow analysts... its almost like pledging to bring ya together as a class"

Phrase it as, "No problem! An FYI though I'm currently working on this project with this sensitive deadline, is it possible to push slightly down, or do you want me to tell the other MD/ED/VP this should be done first? No problem to let them know!"

If he says yes, tell the other who tasked the former request, it'll push a conversation above your pay grade, they'll hash it out.

Not one size fits all, but ny only caveats are hierarchy wins typically, and if an ask is from someone not in your team structure, immediately say youre happy to take a look but you gotta run it by your silo just to make sure it's OK to pause the current. If it's 2 ppl not in your team, go to your boss for allocation

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