In the first practice problem, the problem is a team member misses deadlines. How should you handle this situation? However, in this new segment, we are trying something new with this Practice Problems segment. Want to read the details click here.
Practice Problem: Create a plan to talk to a team member who misses deadlines.
Bonus: Explore why a deadline is imposed in the first place (and if it’s really needed).
Timed: In 15 mins or less
A word of caution
Our practice problems are designed to get you to think about how to attack a problem and to develop a mindset. However, when negotiating or as you build products within your cross-functional teams there are variables that we have zero ideas about and the circumstances are different.
Therefore, as you review to use this resource as a guide or framework. Remember for example, one size doe NOT fit all.
What would YOU do? 👇
Let us know in the comments below:
- How you would handle this situation, and/ or
- What you would do differently.
Solution – Team member misses deadlines
As you can imagine this can quickly escalate into a disaster very quickly if not addressed appropriately, which can impact your relationship and outcomes for your project (among other things).
Below is a five-step process to consider as you prepare to talk to your team member who misses deadlines.
Step 1: Collect data/ understand the context
Any *good* conversation needs to be based on facts and not emotions. Remain objective. Some of the data to look for includes:
- Is this the first time the team member has missed deadlines (or is there a pattern)?
- What is your relationship with the team member who missed the deadline (friend, reports to you, co-worker, new employee, etc.)
- Was the deadline previously agreed by the team member, was it feasible, were there any dependencies? why was the deadline missed?
Write these down as it will help you get clarity. Also, you may not know the answers to some of the questions raised above and that is ok, the point here is to do your research and be prepared to have a conversation based on facts and not get emotional.
Step 2: What outcome do you want?
You need to have a clear understanding of what outcome (or purpose) you are looking for before having this conversation with the team member.
Some examples could be:
- Discuss how the team member missing the deadline impacts the rest of the project.
- Offer to support the team member (this could be a number of things from providing additional training, time off to handle something personal, help prioritize time or workload, etc.)
- Worst case - remove the team member
Step 3: Prepare your conversation
Plan out your choice of words very carefully and how you address your team member. Using the "right" choice of words, your tone, and body language. Plan your conversation with a:
- Beginning - Take off the pressure by starting off with the positives and facts.
- Middle - Explain how it impacts the rest of the team project (your purpose)
- End - Closeout the conversation by getting to an agreement on the next steps
Sample conversation prep.
Hi [Team member name], I know you have been assigned to work with me and I know I am not officially your boss. I know you are trying very hard to manage both your regular work and the work for this team.
However, I am starting to realize that my work competes with your work and gets de-prioritized which I generally find out after the deadline. This has happened twice in the last two months and it has a knock-on effect through our work.
I appreciate your efforts, can we going forward we create a system or process where you notify me of your workload and priority before the deadline so we can allocate resources appropriately.
Step 4: Watch the reaction and adjust
During the conversation keep an eye out on how team member is reacting (which may make them turn defensive or offensive).
Step 5: Agree on how best to move forward
During the conversation discuss how to move forward and importantly prevent deadlines being missed again. (of course, things will happen and it's possible a deadline will be missed in the future, however creating a process can reduce the risk of re-occurring).
Deadlines are a normal part of life - but are they *really* required. When working through step 1, (Collect data/ understand the context) think about why the deadline was initiated and was the team member a part of this process.
Creating deadlines can be tricky, below is a good example and a bad example of creating deadlines:
- Good example: GDPR must be implemented by [Date].
- Bad example: Let's assign two weeks to implement the new workflow process.
What would you do?
What would you do different let us know in the comments below?
Have ideas and suggestions for future problems?
We love to hear from you, let us know what ideas and suggestion you would like to see here. The best way to do this to be a subscriber for our Product Negotiations newsletter and let us know (benefit of subscribing).
Ready to subscribe? Drop your email in below:
Learning a new skill or constantly improving and keeping your skills sharp should be easy.