Just hearing the word “deadline” can send a shiver down our spine and triggers for many of us. It’s uncanny how a simple word can cause arousing anxiety, especially in the business environment?
Well, deadlines can certainly be unrealistic and can cause an immense amount of stress, both to your management and for the rest of the team.
Missing a deadline can have severe consequences for a business and can often lead to penalties, and in the extreme cases it can also lead to the loss of a client and that contract, and no one wants this dreaded scenario to happen.
Well, even if the situation can feel grim, with a few useful tricks you and your team can meet the seemingly impossible deadlines while avoiding working overtime or during the weekends.
Just follow our practical advice and – as long as you don’t let the deadline anxiety affect you – your project should wrap up promptly.
1. Set Clear Objectives and Divide Into Smaller Tasks
When starting with a project, the very first thing for you as a manager and leader is to set clear objectives for your team, and yourself. To make things easier and more precise, divide up tasks into smaller and more specific assignments/duties/responsibilities. That way you will create logical footsteps of achievable tasks for your team which will lead to the success of the final and big-picture goal.
Precise instructions and objectives are a necessity for your team to quickly understand what they should focus on and how to approach each and specific task. Don’t be vague with your instructions and ensure to explain each objective in fine detail. Let your team ask you questions and openly discuss the project with them.
Most importantly, be sure that everyone is on the same page. The mere fact that all of you are enthusiastic about the goals and plans on how to tackle the deadlines will make everyone feel more involved in the process, and their contribution appreciated.
2. Take the Advantages of Two-Way Communication
Every company needs to understand that two-way communication is a vital key to success. When working on a project, its deadlines must be communicated well in advance so that your team can be prepared and can plan their work. Likewise, your team needs to communicate and report to – date progress; so that you as a leader can jump in and make suggestions/changes (if necessary) promptly which ensures that everyone is on track with the big picture and project goals.
Additionally, having an “active” two-way communication channel is a safe way to ensure that each team member is updated with the current status of the project. That way you are also avoiding unnecessary surprises and misunderstandings that can lead to exceeding deadlines.
Two-way communication will make deadlines less hectic, much more manageable and will create a healthy environment where each member can address issues, resolve and work on challenging situations.
3. Never Forget to Motivate Your Team
As a manager, you must keep the morale of your team as high as possible, especially when all of you are excitedly working to meet the deadlines for the project. It’s imperative never to miss a chance to acknowledge when an employee is doing a great job, especially during those crisis periods. Just like you, they are also under stress, so a simple word of encouragement (especially from a team leader) can make a world of difference.
As a leading entrepreneur and contributor to Forbs.com Alan Hall said: “When your team feels appreciated they are significantly more motivated to offer their best performance.”
Your goal here is quite simple, be the lighthouse in the storm for your team and make them understand that their work and time are valuable and highly appreciated. This is advised to keep in mind, not just when under pressure to meet deadlines, but more as a general rule of thumb.
4. Be a Perfect Example for Your Team
As a leader, your team will look up to you. To establish a trusting relationship with them, you’ll need to be a perfect example and keep everything under control.
According to Fred Wilson, professional writer, and editor, “one of the most basic rules of project management is that you cannot insist on a certain set of values and actions of your team and not behave in the same manner yourself.”
In short, avoid contradicting yourself, work beside your team and be there for them. After all, you are in this together don’t let some deadlines to crush your work ethics and team morale.
5. If Needed Try to Renegotiate Deadline and Offer a Reasonable Alternative
Many people don’t see this as a valid option – but in reality, some deadlines are just unrealistic. As a leader, you need to take notice of this as soon as possible and communicate your concerns with the client. It’s best to have this discussion earlier in the process and try to negotiate and prolong the deadline at least for a day or two. That can mean a world of difference for the morale of your team and you as well. On the other hand, if you remain quiet on the issue, your company can face financial consequences.
The key to success here is to offer your client a good and reasonable alternative. So when approaching the client with the issue, try to provide them with a new deadline that works well both for you and for them. But remember, this is a one-time joker card you are playing. Your new negotiated deadline must be met.
Otherwise, you and your team will look unprofessional, and that can lead to further consequences. So make some wiggle room in your newly negotiated deadline. If it happens that your recently arranged deadline is met before time runs out, do make some extra polish of the project and take this opportunity not just to achieve, but surpass the client’s expectations.
In theory, deadlines can increase the productivity of your team, but only in short bursts. They can be horrid and highly stressful periods, especially in the business environment where this is not easily avoidable. But with excellent management skills, some experience and a few tips here and there, your team and you can sail through the storm and meet the project deadlines.