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The Best Hack to Manage Team Deadlines
Sean: Hey, guys! Welcome back to another episode of Leadership Stack. It’s me again, your host, Sean Si.
And for today, we do have a special episode for you and it is how to manage team deadlines. You see, all teams struggle with deadlines because sometimes we put deadlines without really brainstorming on how much work needs to be done to be able to meet that deadline or to produce the work ahead of that deadline.
So you can say that deadlines are sometimes very good educated guesses. So it is not uncommon for people in a team to miss deadlines. But how do you manage missed deadlines? How do you make sure that your team would hit deadlines at least 95%, or maybe even 99% of the time?
You have to be flexible and I will teach you how to be able to manage deadlines via email, via chat app, via Messenger, Viber, whatever channel you may have, this is how we do it in SEO Hacker.
You see, people are not all the same. There are some people who struggle with discipline. There are some people who struggle with being responsible. And there are people who also struggle with being accountable.
I know. I’ve managed more than 200 people in SEO Hacker, some have come and gone and some are still with me. And this is how we make sure that we are able to serve them as their leaders to be more accountable, more disciplined, and more responsible with their deadlines so that we can serve our clients as best as we can within deadlines.
We use a very simple system called Clarify in Advance. Now you have to understand, clarity is one of our core values in SEO Hacker. We don’t communicate and assume the other party has understood what we want to bring about or what we want to say across the table. We make sure that the other party really understands by asking questions.
That’s why we use the word clarify, because that’s part of our core value. You don’t need to call it this way. You can call it whatever you want. For us, it’s just easier to call it Clarify in Advance.
And the first step to clarifying in advance is for that person who knows he or she is about to miss a deadline to send an email or a chat 24 hours prior to missing that deadline.
They already know they’re going to miss the deadline. There’s no way they’re going to hit it. So they have to give you a heads up as their leader, team leader, team manager that they are about to miss the deadline. And the subject line is, “I am about to miss a deadline.” Simple as that.
The email has four main points. The first point is: Why are you going to be missing the deadline? Of course, they can’t always just say I’m about to miss a deadline and that’s it. You, as the team leader and manager, has to know why they’re going to be missing the deadline.
And they are completely aware of that. They should be completely aware of that so they have to specify. They have to put it there, write it down on that email or in that chat message.
The second point is for the person who’s about to miss a deadline to specify when the new deadline will be and why. It cannot be too long of a buffer. It has to be the right amount because they’re already missing the first agreed upon deadline.
So the next deadline cannot be too long apart. It has to be somewhere near the initial agreed upon deadline. usually maybe just a day after. That would make it reasonable.
Unless, of course, there are external factors that are urgent or that have experienced a crisis that they have to first undertake before now hitting your agreed upon deadline. Usually that’s not the case. They just missed a deadline because of some minor reasons, and so they have to adjust it a day after.
The third thing that this email or this chat should contain is if they would need help or support in removing blockers.
Maybe there are some people who are asking them why they’re doing this or who are asking them in a bureaucratic way for some signatures, for some proof, for some acknowledgement from the client, and so on and so forth. Maybe they need you as their leader to help clear that out of the way. We also require that person to put in that email if they need help.
And lastly, in that Clarify in Advance email or chat, we ask people to put if they need to communicate this to any external stakeholders such as their clientele, because at the end of the day, it’s usually the clients who have ordered such a task.
And if the clients are going to be suffering a late deadline, it’s your entire organization’s fault, not just that one person. So that person has to identify if this missed deadline and adjustment would affect an external stakeholder or would affect a client.
Now, if it would affect the client now, you as the leader have to communicate to that client why you’re going to be missing a deadline. And usually we ask our people to send us the email first or the chat first of what they’re going to be telling the client about this missed deadline.
The execom will check it, the upper management will check it, and if it’s good to go, then we ask that person to send it straight away to the client or I would do it myself, or one of the exec comm will do it to send this missed deadline to the client and why it is so.
Of course, you would have to apologize to the client if you’re going to be missing deadlines. And so it’s a little bit complicated in that way. but usually the clients would understand if the reason is valid.
Always remember you as the leader, maybe a C-level executive, or maybe you’re a part of upper management, it is a waste of your time to have to keep following up on missed deadlines or to have to keep on following up on your people who are not accountable to you, who don’t tell you they’re about to miss a deadline or they’ve missed it already and a week has gone by and you didn’t know and stuffs are not being sent to the client.
It’s a waste of your time to have to keep on doing this. This is why we instituted this Clarify in Advance email or chat. And whenever people would fail to submit a Clarify in Advance notification to us, the leaders, the execom, we have to serve them by sending them a memo.
Remember, if you don’t send the memo, it undermines your authority as the leader. People will think things don’t have to get done on time because you don’t care enough to tell them off and to talk with them and to sit down with them and explain to them the importance of meeting deadlines on the deadline.
There’s a reason why it’s called deadlines because something somewhere has to die if that deadline is missed. So you might lose the client, you might lose some revenue, you might lose face, you might lose branding, you might lose some authority, you might lose some trust there. Somewhere along the way, somewhere dies. That’s why it’s called a deadline.
So you have to keep on hitting deadlines. And if deadlines have to be adjusted, we do it this way. This entire system, simple as it is, keeps everyone in check and make sure that we honor our word, because usually deadlines are not just given.
We also ask our people: When can you do this? When can you submit that? And people commit to their own deadlines and we keep them in check and accountable for that.
When Clarify in Advance is practiced and it’s observed, you will have much more time focusing on things that are more important, such as working on your business rather than in your business.
Being the secretary of your people, having to always follow up on them, remind them of things, that helps you out a lot. This simple system also gives your producers more energy.
Your producers are people in your team who are more disciplined, more responsible, they’re more accountable because now they see that you as the leader, care about deadlines and you care enough about people who missed deadlines to tell them off or to serve them by retraining them, or worst case scenario is you’ve got to part ways with them if they keep on missing the deadlines and if they keep on forgetting to send you a Clarify in Advance notice.
I hope this video has added value to you. It’s short, it’s simple, but it’s super applicable to any team, especially if you’re struggling with missed deadlines. Please do help us by sharing this video to a friend, to a colleague.
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Again, this is your host, Sean Si, and I will see you in the next episode.