Do you occasionally miss a deadline? If your boss asks for a report by 5 PM on Friday, do you think to yourself that it can wait until Monday? Maybe she’ll forget about it. I’ll wait until she asks about it again. If it is really that important, she’ll remind me about it.
We’ve all had these thoughts, especially when we are dealing with multiple, competing priorities. What harm can it do? As long as you get the report done in the end, no harm… Right?
Not exactly. You are building or destroying your personal brand with every interaction you have with your boss, coworkers, friends, and family. A deadline may seem unimportant to you and it might even be a low priority to your boss, but you committed and you didn’t follow through. What happens when your boss needs an important project completed on time? Who is she going to call? Is it the employee who always gets his or her work done on time or the one who sometimes needs reminding? What happens when this same decision is made over and over? What about when the time comes for cutbacks? Who keeps the job?
I don’t want to be doom and gloom about this. If you have a habit of not following through, it is important that you recognize this and how it is impacting the image that others have of you. Next, you need to recognize that it is never too late to turn this around. Start today with the process I have detailed below.
The 3 Cs of Branding
William Arruda says that the 3 Cs of branding are clarity, consistency, and constancy. All three are important to building and maintaining your personal brand. When you are only reliable some of the time, you are undermining one of the central pillars of personal branding.
The 4 Cs of Commitments and Deadlines
Since William has the 3 Cs of personal branding, I thought I would create my 4 Cs of dealing with commitments and deadlines. (It actually started as 3 Cs, but the fourth one was really necessary) They are: consider, chronicle, commit, and communicate.
Before you agree to take on any project, carefully consider if you have time for it. What other projects are on your plate? How important is this new request? What is the due date? If you are too busy for it now, can you complete it at a later date? Is there someone else that can work on this instead? The point here is to carefully consider what you are being asked to do and think about it before agreeing. The goal should be to be helpful, but not overburden yourself so that none of your work gets completed on time.
Write down every commitment you make no matter how small or large. Many of us run into trouble with the little commitments we make. We run into someone in the hall and they ask us to do something. We have every intention of following through, but soon forget. Chances are, the person that asked you didn’t forget. Record each commitment you have made in a notebook, in a to do application, or on your calendar. Be sure to note all the details about the project and the due date.
Make an honest effort to complete all projects by their respective due dates. Don’t fall into the trap of only working on the projects that are easy or quick to complete. Use good time management skills and ensure that you are making sufficient progress towards each of your upcoming deadlines.
It’s going to happen. You are going to get sick. Some emergency is going to arise that needs to be dealt with immediately. People understand that sometimes priorities change or unforeseen circumstances pop up. As soon as you know that you are going to miss a deadline, send an e-mail, make a call, or stop by the desk of the requester and let them know. We all hate delivering bad news, but in all likelihood, the person will understand. They are much more likely to be understanding if you let them know ahead of time rather than a day or week after you were supposed to deliver.
Photo credit: Chris Metcalf