Firstly, show that you care about deadlines: demonstrate to your team that meeting agreed deadlines is important for organising work, motivating, team performance and gaining support from stakeholders.
Involve your team from the beginning in the development of timelines and deadlines and agree principles for how this will be done.
- Keep track of everything in one place.
- Get ideas from team members and learn about their current workloads.
- Be realistic on what can be done, – do not over commit and build in buffer time to allow for problems.
- Distribute tasks equitably amongst the team.
- Plan in detail together
Work with your team to design and implement a simple method for reviewing existing priorities, prioritising new work that comes in or reordering due to impacts of a changing external environment. You may, for example, generate a simple high/medium/low prioritisation list based on value-add. Allow individuals to set some deadlines, where appropriate, and do not be afraid to cut out priorities or postpone projects sometimes.
Be flexible and allow for team members to address urgent (serious negative consequences) priorities that may come up from time to time.
Be sure that your team communicates amongst themselves and with stakeholders the agreed action plan and any changes. Ensure that everyone understands the action plan. Make yourself available to answer any questions and to provide feedback; and encourage team members to ask questions when in doubt.
Check-in regularly with your team on progress and regularly remind the team of agreed deadlines and why it is important to achieve them. Make a special effort to acknowledge the team and individual efforts, thanking team members when they reach a deadline.
If a deadline is missed, limit the damage. Find out the root cause (e.g. were processes not followed, or perhaps the correct resources were unavailable) and have a team debriefing to discuss. Implement corrective action and processes.
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