One of the most frequent complaints I hear from business owners is that their employees are holding them back. They say that their people have no common sense - but they keep them because good employees are so hard to find and hiring is such a lottery.
The problem is that common sense isn’t so common and you have to make the most out of what you have. The fish stinks from the head down and many employee issues can be tracked back directly to the owner and the lack of accountability in the organization.
You get the behaviors you inspect….not the ones you simply expect.
Success starts by setting expectations in a clear manner and relies on calling people on them when they fail to measure up.
This is nowhere clearer than in employees meeting deadlines, but it is relatively easy to fix. All you have to do is follow a simple system that removes the need for common sense and holds people accountable for what they have been told to do.
When you set a deadline:
- Communicate your expectations clearly.
- Explain why the deadline is important. If your deadlines are to be taken seriously you need to explain their significance.
- Set dates for progress reports if appropriate.
- Get agreement to your timetable.
- Set a date when you expect to be told in advance if the deadline cannot be met. If you do it in writing it is much more powerful
This last point is critical. By not telling you ahead of time if the deadline cannot be met your employee is removing your ability to manage and they must be made aware of this. You may be able to allow some slippage, but if you absolutely must meet the deadline then this gives you the chance to take alternative action.
Finally, follow up if the deadline is missed. How often have you set a deadline and never followed up with the employee? What kind of message do you think that conveys about you and how seriously you expect to be taken? So fix yourself first and you are on your way to building a deadline culture.