Our work lives are chaotic to say the least. Many days we hit 2pm and wonder if we’ve eaten, taken a drink or paused just to exhale. No longer are we able to execute successfully by working in an independent fashion, but rather it seems our success is inevitably tied to someone else’s performance.
We’ve all felt, lived or seen the following frustration. You are depending on someone else to hit a deadline for you. For whatever reason, they miss, your project is late and the client is unhappy … with YOU. You likely have a brief conversation in the heat of the moment with your colleague and then the “busyness” of your work life takes over and nothing else is said … until it happens again. In that moment, trust is severed, relationships are damaged and impressions are established.
Ironically, what doesn’t likely happen is communication … true communication focused on the business issue, its negative implications and successful resolution. We use all sorts of excuses to not engage in these difficult conversations with colleagues who have let us down … we’re too busy to mess with him/her, it won’t make a difference, they don’t care about me or quality so why bother… and the list goes on and on.
I want to propose that while sometimes the above may be true, it is even more likely that the above are false, built on false perceptions and misunderstandings that can be easily corrected. The next time one of these “misunderstandings” impacts your performance, consider doing the following:
- Schedule time AFTER the fact, when emotions have settled to meet with your colleague who has disappointed you.
- Schedule this time in a NEUTRAL SETTING and early in the morning before the chaos of work sets in.
- Start with a question RATHER THAN your assumptions about the why. Simply ask your colleague, why did you miss the deadline? This alone may correct the issues and allow you to restart the relationship.
- Explain to them the implications of this missed deadline to both you AND the business. Also, how it negatively impacts both of your perceptions in the business.
- Ask them what THEY NEED from you in order to ensure success in the future.
- GIVE them your commitment and ask for theirs.
Taking 30 minutes of your day to “deal with the problem” will, I promise, save you hours of frustration, tons of missed deadlines and broken trust. In today’s business, we are simply too busy NOT to communicate in the moment with honesty.