Broken Promises and Missed Deadlines – 2 things you can do about it!
You have a big deadline and are counting on other people to keep the promises they made. But people miss deadlines and fail to make their commitments all of the time. What is a leader to do about this?
Step 1 – Ask for a completion date and time for all commitments. All too often leaders assign work and then fail to obtain a commitment of when it will be completed. This means a specific date and time the deadline will be met. Failure to give specific deadlines and leaving due dates loose are leadership issues. If the leader says, “We need to get this done ASAP,” that is too weak. Try asking when the person can get it done. Then hold them accountable to the date and time they provide. Write it down, and if it is important, follow the commitment up with an email. Better yet, have them send you an email with the date commitment included.
Step 2 – Walk your talk. Simply asking for a deadline, and putting it in writing, is not going to ensure all promises made to you will be kept. Start by keeping your own promises. A good rule of thumb as a leader is to make very few promises and to keep them all! Once you begin keeping all of your promises, those around you feel compelled to do the same. As a result, more deadlines will be met…but not all of them. Inevitably people will let you down. Insist upon early and pro-active communication if anything is going to keep a promise from being kept. Expect and demand to be warned if a commitment is going to be missed. There is nothing worse than not communicating when there is a problem. No leader wants to be surprised by a missed deadline.
When someone fails you on a deadline or commitment and you hear the excuse, “I am very busy and just couldn’t get to it.” Reply by saying, “It isn’t that you didn’t have enough time, it is that you put other things in front of this.” If the individual missed the commitment and didn’t give you a heads-up communication prior to missing the commitment, you have a much bigger problem.