The end of the year will be here before we know it and we all have some projects we’d like to wrap up before the holidays. The problem is that sometimes our plans get derailed by other people who delay getting their share of the work done. Regardless of whether it is driven by busyness or procrastination, we end up with the last-minute scramble.
If you find yourself waiting on other people, you have a few options. Giving them the cold shoulder at the holiday party is not really one of them. You will probably find much more success with one of these strategies:
- Identify what is reasonable to finish: We all want to finish far more than is actually possible. Give yourself a gift and be realistic about what does (and doesn’t) need to get done. Once you are clear on this, you can better coordinate plans with other people.
- Set clear expectations: People can’t meet expectations if their understanding isn’t clear. Revisit expectations if timelines are getting derailed. Ask for their input and agree on new deadlines.
- Agree on a specific deadline: Avoid the oh-so-vague “as soon as possible” request. Rather, set a specific deadline that works for both of you.
- Build in a buffer: Budget enough time for your review and edits. Just be careful about setting a deadline too far in advance. If they sense a false deadline, they are more likely to bypass it.
- Establish interim check-ins: Research shows that short-term deadlines lead to higher quality and more timely work. Book some interim check-ins and you’ll see more progress.
- Be the project manager: Super busy people can get so back-logged that they lose track of deadlines. You might be able to support a trusted colleague by offering to be the project manager and tracking the tasks and deadlines. This helping hand can be a miraculous lifeline among trusted colleagues who are buried under the end-of-year avalanche.
- Tell them why: Try to impart the significance of their piece and the impact of any delays. Just keep it quick. They are just as busy as you are.
- Ask if you can help: I know that you are super busy, but offering to help doesn’t always require tons of your time. Maybe you can quickly brainstorm with them. Maybe you can introduce them to someone who can help. And maybe, your simple offer will help them to get moving on the work.
Notice that all of the above strategies have a collaborative and respectful tone. They are far more effective means of getting things done than going to someone’s boss. People who go this route tend not to do very well during the office gift swap.
Rather, I’d love to see you use these tips to end the year strong. Please let us know if you have any other tips for managing delays driven by others.