I overheard a conversation the other day and it went something like this: “Hey Charlie, I need the Jenson report by Friday. Can you get it to me?" "Not a problem Joe, absolutely." The following Tuesday I overheard Joe say to Charlie "Hey Charlie. Thought you were going to get me the Jenson report by Friday?" Charlie's response: “Yeah, this and that came up and I didn’t get to it. I’ll get right on that and I should have it to you, let’s see, today is Tuesday… Thursday, no Friday, I should have it to you by Friday.” Does this conversation sound familiar?
These types of conversations go on all the time - in meetings, conference calls, with the people you report to, the people who report to you, your counterparts, coworkers, and so on. It seems to be part of human nature. And chances are, you can relate to one side or other of the conversation...or perhaps both. We’ve all had to deal with people who are this way and there’s no doubt that it has an impact on performance.
I’d like to offer a few quick tips to help avoid this kind of scenario happening and in doing so, increase productivity now.
If you’re setting the task:
- If you ask someone to do something ask them for a ‘by when’ - get the date and time by which they are going to get it to you.
- If you’re the person expecting something from someone, you have a responsibility in this relationship too: it’s called following up. Call or email a day or two before to check in, see if it is still on track to be delivered on time
If you’ve been assigned the task:
- Schedule an occasion to get it done in whatever tool you use to manage your time.
- If it looks like you’re not going to be able to meet your commitment, let people know as soon as you can and give them a counter offer. That could sound something like “Joe, I’m not going to get the Jensen report to you by Friday at 3pm as originally promised. Something came up. Is it ok if I get it to you by Tuesday at 2pm?” You could be surprised by Joe saying yes.
That last tip can be tricky. You have to juggle being in communication, but not having the person feel micro-managed, feeling as if you don't trust them, and perhaps triggering a bevy of other human emotions and reactions that you didn’t intend.
In terms of getting started, there are many ways to get this practice in with your team, client relations, subcontractors, homeowner associations or whoever it is you’re dealing with. One way is to introduce the idea in a meeting. Set up a meeting and discuss the tips above and say that you would like to start “practicing” operating this way as a way to increase productivity and performance. Alternatively, you just start asking people for days and times and follow up with them a few days before.
There is no perfect or right way to start operating this way but starting somewhere, with some team or relationship, is key. Starting is the big step and keeping the practice alive is essential.
Will you get push back? Probably. Will it take time to start operating in this way, of course. However, having just 10% of your organization operating this way will have folks start to notice an uptick in others’ results and it could catch on like wild fire!
Everyone wants to be part of a winning team and produce results they can be proud of. Everyone wants to be more effective and complete things that need to be done on time and under budget. It makes them look good, feel good and most importantly proud of the work they’ve accomplished.
So why not give it a go? We’d love to hear how you get on, and if you need any support please do reach out!