There are several reasons why good workers miss deadlines. If your team is consistently missing deadlines, you need to address the problem why. It may not lie with the incompetency of your staff members and not being able to meet deadlines. The problem may lie in the way that the way the deadlines are set and how employees are managed. Here are five common mistakes managers make when setting deadlines for projects.
Set realistic deadlines
A deadline must be realistic or the employee has failed before they have even started the task. Each individual deadline must take into account factors like:
- what the employee’s skill set is
- how long it will take them to complete the task
- what their current workload is and
- what additional resources are allocated to the project.
You need to set firm deadlines for your employees and stick to those deadlines. Deadlines should not be brought forward at a whim or a moment’s notice because you have decided that you have time in your afternoon to read a draft of the annual report.
Get your systems right
There is software available like project management software that will map out a schedule of work, manage cost control and budgets, resource allocation and documentation. Each company has their own individual systems and software to organise projects which may be commercial software or individually built for the organisation. Other standard tools like Microsoft Outlook are useful are scheduling meetings, tasks and reminders for deadlines. Using this software consistently and correctly will result in a greater chance of deadlines being met.
Keep your eye on the ball
Schedule regular work in progress meetings for long term projects to make sure that your employees are hitting their deadlines at each phase of the project. Don’t wait until the day before the project is due to have a last minute catch up with your team. It will most likely be too late to address any problems that may result in a missed deadline. Regular meetings should be held to discuss any problems with projects or obstacles that may hinder deadlines or cause deadlines to be missed or pushed back.
Allocate adequate resources
A major reason why deadlines are missed because there are not enough resources allocated to a project. Initially there may be enough resources allocated but due to extenuating circumstances such as requests for additional work not specified in the original brief or complications such as the weather, sick employees or materials lost in transit which may slow down the workload. In this instance, more resources should be allocated or deadlines should be moved in order to complete the work in a timely manner.
Reward people for meeting deadlines
There is always a debriefing when a mishap happens, deadlines are not met or something goes wrong but there also needs to be a debriefing when things go right at work. If a project is completed successfully, have a meeting to discuss the positives about the projects and to learn how to manage similar projects in the future. If an employee has met their deadline early, acknowledge their work and reward them for their hard work by giving them the afternoon off or time in lieu. Employees who feel valued and appreciated are less likely to miss deadlines.
Setting deadlines is one of the most important tasks of management. A missed deadline or a deadline that is pushed back may lead to costs blown out for a project, a lack of motivation or team spirit as employees are constantly overloaded or working around the clock to meet the deadline or the worst case scenario, the loss of a client or major account.
Time must be taken at the start of the project to set realistic deadlines, allocate adequate resources to a project and allow for any contingencies. This must be monitored throughout every stage of the project to ensure a project is completed within time, within budget and to the client’s satisfaction.