It is often easy to shout out the timeline. Are workplace timelines creating accountability or hindering productivity?
Depending on the work, timelines are either set or contingent upon availability or demand.
Management sometimes sets the timeline. It may be based on historical performance, benchmark data, or even just management expectations.
In other cases, timelines are conditioned by availability or need.
Restaurants are busy during a breakfast, lunch, or dinner hour, but not so much during other times.
Personal tax service businesses have a peak time of the year.
In manufacturing or assembly businesses, efforts often depend on first things first, each step of the process relies on the step before.
In healthcare or firefighting, the timeline may be conditioned by an emergency.
For some businesses the timeline is conditioned by a project specification. Project managers assure the process is happening according to spec.
In all cases, accountability is often a concern. Matrix management or cross-functional teams often leave accountability in the hands of the employee teams.
What makes a difference for accountability?
There are two schools of thought.
The first is that management sets all timelines and provides oversight to ensure all responsible parties are held accountable.
Another is that management asks responsible parties to provide the timeline and then provides support and oversight to the process.
Are the timelines reasonable? Will the work be completed on time?
When the responsible party chooses the timeline and everyone agrees that it is reasonable there is little room for excuses.
Perhaps the quality, accuracy, and completeness of the project will depend on who sets the timeline?
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and culture expert. He is a five-time author and the founder of Appreciative Strategies, LLC. His business focuses on positive human performance improvement solutions through Appreciative Strategies®. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.