Episode 22: Impossible DeadlinesMay 24, 2022
"Two employees left my team just before the deadline on a big project. How do I change my approach to meet the deadline?"
We’ve all been there when our carefully laid out plan goes awry because of circumstances outside our control. Our impulse is to dive in more and drive harder to reach the deadline.
I really like your perspective here about thinking through how you need to change your approach. If you just keep on the same trajectory with fewer people and try to keep it going in the same way that spells disaster. The project will be compromised and you will be compromised because you will be tired, frustrated, burnout and ready to quit.
Taking the time to step back and think about it or talk about it might be more helpful than any thoughts I might share. Let’s talk about three approaches:
Your Project Approach
One option you have is to take on the tasks of the two people that left and just work harder. You might have some volunteers you can recruit or a temp staff you could hire. And, if this is the first time it’s ever happened for you then that might be a great one-time approach.
If it’s a worn down path, it’s time to rethink the project. Maybe the deadline can be moved, maybe the project can adapt or become more focused. In nonprofits we have big ideas – they really can be tempered and still be effective. It’s hard to let go of some of the “cool” ideas we might have but are really time consuming.
Your People Approach
To narrow the scope of the project probably means having some influencing conversations with people involved in the project >> it might be other leaders in the organization. Board members. Volunteers. Communication is going to be a key to rethinking your people approach. Some people will be on-board and some won’t. You’re under a time constraint so you may not have the luxury of getting everyone on board.
If it’s a repeated pattern, as a leader, you might have to re-think your leadership approach.
Your Leadership Approach
Look at your own work patterns – is your personal drive driving your people crazy? Organizational patterns can be a reflection of the leader – and it cascades down in the organization. Look at your priorities. You probably have too many. Sharpen your focus on those things which are critical or core. Release those which are essential but maybe don’t have to happen right NOW and those which are supplemental – great ideas, but not critical to your mission. Putting priorities in those three buckets can help you bring more focus to the projects of your team and be helpful when you have to say “no” to a really good idea.
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