How to Better Handle Missed Deadlines as a New Manager

How to Better Handle Missed Deadlines as a New Manager
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How to Better Handle Missed Deadlines
Our recent new manager training research found that deadlines are one of the biggest sources of frustration, stress, and conflict for team leaders.  Even though most senior executives consider timelines to be flexible, most employees report being hesitant to ask for more time from their boss.  And our employee engagement research tells us that managers who know how to better handle missed deadlines as a new manager have higher levels of employee performance, engagement, and retention.

Steps for New Managers
If you are a new manager, it is important for your success and for the success of your team that everyone understands and respects the importance of meeting deadlines.  Here are four steps to show how to better handle missed deadlines as a manager.

  1. Set Crystal Clear Expectations
    From the beginning of every project or assignment, you should have clear, relevant, transparent, fair, and achievable expectations in terms of success metrics, goals, scope, quality, budgets, and schedule.  It is not enough to have a conversation.  Put what you expect in writing and make sure that all key stakeholders are on board.

    Be clear about what is flexible and what is not flexible in terms of cost, quality, and time.

  2. Make Sure Everyone Knows Why It Matters
    For every deadline, invest the time to make sure that everyone knows the purpose behind the work, the picture of what success looks like, the plan to get from where you are to where you want to be, and the part each person plays in the plan. Then make sure that the rewards for success are fair, proportionate, and timely.

    If you want people to perform at their peak, they need to know what’s in it for them personally and professionally.

  3. Frequently Monitor Progress
    Don’t wait to act until the deadline is imminent or has passed. Have regular status reports and check-ins so that everyone knows where things stand.  When progress is being shared, make it easy for team members to discuss roadblocks, clarify expectations, and ask for help.  The more advance notice you have of delays, the better you can avoid last minute disappointments.
  4. Enforce Consequences
    We have all worked with people who do not pull their own weight. Underperformers can drag down the performance and morale of entire teams.  Make it clear upfront what will happen if deadlines are missed.

The Bottom Line
Accountability is a cornerstone of a high performing team.  As a manager, you need to make expectations clear, make progress transparent to all, check in on a regular basis, and make it easy for people to voice their concerns and ask for help.

To learn more about how to better manage your team as a new manager, download How Much a Leader Should Push for Higher Performance


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