Without a Deadline

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Question:
What happens if someone isn’t focused on a timeline? We have a number of people who need to be strategic and who need to maintain a number of balls (projects) in the air, but those projects tend to focus on a “perfect outcome” without a time-frame.

Response:
One of the biggest mistakes managers make, is assigning tasks without a deadline. Lots of chocolate messes start out this way. All projects have a deadline, whether stated or not.

  • The manager thinks “by Friday,” the team member thinks by “next month.”
  • The manager thinks this task has priority over all other tasks. The team member thinks this task has second priority over all other tasks.
  • The manager expects to see a draft plan by Friday. The team member hasn’t heard from the manager by Thursday, so stops working on the task, thinking it is no longer important.

A task (goal, objective, project) is not a “WHAT.” It’s a “WHAT, BY WHEN.”

One thought on “Without a Deadline

  1. AnyaWorkSmart

    Yes, that simple – It’s a “WHAT, BY WHEN.” Small elaboration – always say by when and do not substitute it with duration (like “it will take 8 days”), that opens the gate for the same multiple interpretations as Tom mentioned above.

    Reply

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