When your team falls into a pattern of missing a lot of deadlines, you know you’ve got a problem on your hands.
Alison Green, the voice behind the popular “Ask a Manager” blog, offers six ways to lead your team to more precise timing.
1. Set a clear deadline from the start of every task or project. Make sure you’re specific and clear about when you want something done. Saying “I’d like this done by Monday” is nowhere near as definitive as “I need this by Monday.”
2. Hold people accountable for the deadlines you’ve set. Saying nothing about a missed deadline is as good as approving tardiness. Ask why it happened and communicate how important it is not to happen again.
3. Make your deadlines realistic. Talk to your team members about how long it takes them to do various tasks and why. You might find you’re setting unreasonable deadlines or that some people need more guidance to get the job done.
4. Implement a system for tracking work and deadlines. If you don’t have a good one in place, it’s time to establish one.
5. Open up the bottlenecks. There could be one specific thing slowing people down: a specific department that’s slow to sign off or that one team member isn’t moving at the right pace. Ask everyone what’s up, and then get things flowing more smoothly.
6. Addressimmediately. If you’ve done everything above and someone’s work still isn’t up to par, treat it as serious performance issue. Tell her she needs to meet deadlines and give her a time frame for showing improvement.
— Adapted from “What to Do When Your Team is Missing Deadlines,” Alison Green, The Fast Track.