The #1 Reason Deadlines Keep Getting Missed

“If we didn't have deadlines, we'd stagnate” – Walt Disney

Recently an exasperated CEO bemoaned to me how his senior leadership team consistently missed 50% of their deadlines. I asked why he thought this was the case and he explained how they just always take on too much. To me this was a cliché, so I paraphrased with “hmm despite your team having the right intent, they’re just not doing what they say they’ll do for 50% of the time.” He responded with “um, yes!!!”

I highlight this conversation because it’s an all too familiar challenge for many businesses. The people who work there have the right intent but struggle with execution. Accepting this behaviour builds a sceptical culture that lacks trust. It’s certainly not how high performing teams behave.

With the CEO’s situation we drilled down a little further and what we really found was the team didn’t have the tools, techniques and workflow to manage their high workloads and commitments. As a result, deadlines were being missed.

To avoid this from happening, workers need to understand what their capacity and existing commitments are before they take on new commitments. While there’s some discipline involved, it’s not really hard to do it. For further reading, check  Deadlines make us more productive

Other aspects to consider are:

  •   Interruptions – need to be minimised otherwise productivity will be low

  •   Planning – is necessary to balance capacity and commitments

  •   Scheduling – brings the plan to life by determining when deadlines will be actioned

Work is easier when everyone does what they said they’d do. Culture is something we can define how we want it to be. However, how work each day determines what the culture actually is. Give people the support they need to meet their deadlines.