Excuses are problematic. So are urgent deadlines that aren’t real. How are you navigating workplace deadlines?
When do you need this?
I need it now.
Is it the top priority?
I need it before the meeting on Thursday afternoon.
Two things often happen in these scenarios. The first is that the diligent and caring employee drops everything to conform and make the deadline. And, the second is that the meeting is postponed, the boss doesn’t show up, or it never makes it to the final agenda.
Your work is about psychology. Employee commitment and engagement boil down to basic human needs. Everything from survival and providing for yourself and your family, to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and your career.
It all circles back to leadership.
Leaders who give urgent deadlines and then work produced gets wasted or deemed unnecessary is at a minimum discouraging the team.
At first glance you could definitely cite trust issues. Absolutely, they are likely present. Digging beneath the surface there are additional long-term consequences.
Employees may feel:
Is this deadline real?
Should I put in my best effort? They probably won’t even use the results of my work.
My work doesn’t matter.
He or she feels I’m not qualified or incompetent to produce the work.
I made one mistake, one time, now I’m treated like a little kid.
It is absolutely true that in our fast-paced world of work that what appears needed today, may not be needed tomorrow. Sometimes we work really hard on something only to not have the opportunity to call upon the outputs later.
Being proactive and prepared is a strategy. Carelessly suggesting that everything is a priority because it feels urgent to the boss at this moment is a downgrade in leadership.
High-efficiency systems are important. Due dates, ship dates, and customer expectations matter. Leadership is as much about accountability as it is about inspiration and engagement.
How leaders engage with the team, get buy-in, and build trusting relationships are all about the psychology of work today.
A system of fake deadlines won’t get you very far.
Sharing the why of any urgency will help with the distinction between strategy and carelessness.
Agreement to keep the promise of a deadline is a psychological contract.
Understand the difference between wasted effort and strategy.
Build better teams.
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.