02 Nov Timelines and process are interconnected. What can a leader do to help?
I’m stumped. I can’t say it’s writer’s block, maybe blog block?
When I started this blog, I wrote weekly. Then I had a big project so I took a hiatus, and when I returned to blogging, I decided to write bi-weekly. Mainly because I write for the local paper bi-weekly, so that means I write every week, but alternate between the two mediums.
I develop blog ideas from things I see, experience, or wonder about. I record ideas of what to write – some are just words, some are ideas, some are quotes, some are names of people I want to research. My blog is part of my business and I always try to tie it back to leadership or my company’s core beliefs. I find writing from my own personal experience gives me the opportunity to learn, and perhaps, if I’m lucky, to teach.
So, as I sit and think about what to write, it dawns on me that my method of blogging is perhaps a topic in and of itself because I follow a system, self-prescribed, but a system none the less. I’ve covered the first step; which is to record ideas, names, quotes, thoughts or similar, for things I am curious about or things that align with my beliefs. Things that make me say ‘right on!’ Or shake my head in agreement, or even disagreement.
The next thing I do, generally, is research on that topic. I might spend thirty minutes or three hours, it all depends on what I am finding.
Then I think about it, mainly I think about how it applies to real life, and my life, and possibly the lives of others.
And then I try to see how it aligns with leadership, integrity, the golden rule, or anything that I consider a business topic and ideally, one that ties back to my business.
I bet that most people feel compelled, in some way, to write about some thing, that is compelling to them. My process erupted from basic skills like time management and a desire to blog. I need to get my blog done on a certain day, or my article completed by a certain time, so that deadline has pushed me to be more efficient in my process. If those deadlines didn’t exist, chances are my attention and my commitment to completing my task would waiver. Because? Well, there is always tomorrow.
And because there is always a tomorrow, we need to have timelines. Timelines support process. Process supports deliverables.
Having timelines is extremely important. Having due dates is extremely important. It is also extremely important to hold people accountable to those timelines and due dates. And it’s critical, that as a leader, you stick to the timelines and due dates yourself. Your timeline coupled with your paying attention will force your team into a process and hopefully, an efficient one. Time and process are linked.
I had a recent conversation with a colleague who was sharing how at one of her positions her boss had taken a category of work away from her because she got lost in the detail of doing one task and did not complete the rest. She asked my opinion. My answer was that I would have done the opposite. I wouldn’t have given her less to do; I would have given her more and put a timeline to it. A specific timeline. I would have done that to help her determine if she could be more efficient, and if she could find a process that worked for her. The end result may have been the same, but by giving her more work with a timeline you are putting her in a position of responsibility with a deliverable. It is up to her to figure out how to get it done. She has to perform, so she has to figure out a way to perform. You are treating her like an adult.
And I believe, that one of two things would have occurred.
One – she would have figured out a way to get the work done and be on time.
Two – she would have figured out that a job like that is not the best use of her skills.
My point is this; timelines are super important to process. They are also super important to leadership. The use of timelines and due dates is helpful not punitive. If the timeline is too aggressive, it should also force your team to voice that, but I also suggest you make sure they have a good explanation for why it can’t be done and a new date for when it can. If you are going to implement a timeline, you should also know your break points, or areas where flexibility is possible, and others where it is not.
I believe that it is perfectly okay for your team to be uncomfortable sometimes, because it can make them better.
And there you go, a blog about nothing, turned into something.
I may have just Seinfeld myself. And now, I may have just dated myself.