4 Ways To Make Your Team Win At Deadlines

When you hear the word “deadline”, a weird form of anxiety envelops you. A simple word can have such power over your mood because it brings back memories that you want forgotten. Last time you missed a deadline perhaps you lost a client, or your team had to work weekends.

We wanted to help you deal with deadline anxiety so we thought of some effective ways in which you and your team can meet deadlines without all the fuss. Here are 4 (+1) ways to win at deadlines every single time:

1. Set clear goals. Break them into smaller tasks

When you start a project, the first thing to do is set clear goals both for yourself and your team. These should be broken down into specific and attainable tasks in order to create a clear and measurable mission.

To achieve these goals your team has to know what is expected of them. Explain what the goals are and discuss them to ensure that your team agrees with them. Making sure that they are happy with the goals and deadlines you have set will help them feel more involved in their work.

Once you have set your goal, let your team break it into smaller tasks. People nowadays are more likely to work better if they have tasks and goals which they have picked and committed to themselves. Their approach towards the project tends to be more proactive and gives them a deeper sense of personal satisfaction. So whenever possible, the team should be setting and estimating their own tasks. This is also a good way to encourage dialogue to clarify requirements and ambiguities.

2. Two-way communication

First off, let’s see what two-way communication is. In simple words, it is the exchange of information between two or more participants. In organizations it may occur horizontally and vertically. When people with the same rank communicate it is horizontally and when the dialogue happens between top management and teams it’s vertical.

A company has to understand that the two-way communication is vital to its success. Deadlines should be communicated in advance so that your team can plan their work ahead. On the other hand, the team has to communicate the status and progress of their tasks so that the project manager has an overview over the big picture project.

More than that, relying on two-way communication is another way of making sure that everybody is up to date with the project status and it’s almost impossible to be caught by surprise by exceeding deadlines.

Work on your ability to engage employees into two-way communication because it increases their work engagement making deadlines less scary. Also, create an open environment for the teams in which they feel safe to address issues and diffuse difficult situations. Be open and make your people feel comfortable asking questions. Listen carefully to what your team has to say to you and try to feed their needs as often as possible.

3. Motivate

When you start a new job the fresh perspectives and opportunities make you work with more enthusiasm. Meeting a new environment and colleagues drives a desire to set a good image for yourself. However, as time passes, motivation tends to somewhat dwindle, unless there are small motivational engines to carry you forward. These can be self generated if you are a growth minded individual or they can and should be set by project managers.

It’s important to acknowledge employees that do a great job and meet deadlines, even smaller ones. Sometimes all it takes is a “Good job, Bob” to brighten a day. Recognize your team’s merits because when they feel appreciated they are more eager to do a good job, therefor meet the deadline.

Also, keep in mind that there are some people who are motivated by a need for power or achievement. For those, you can start designing work roles in which staffers who are motivated by power will be rewarded with leadership roles. These roles can be tied to the achievement of group deadlines.

Even though “motivation at work” is a hot and debatable subject, at the end of the day, it’s pretty simple. The point is to make your team understand and feel like they are investing their time and energy into something valuable.

4. Lead by example

When you are a project manager/leader teams will watch you. Not because they want to keep track of your activities and how you spend your time. They are watching your every move because they want to see if what you say fits with what you are doing and what you ask of them.

In order to make your team trust you, be consistent in what you do and set an example for them. This is an effective way to make them feel like they have someone to count on and that they are not the only ones doing the job for your interests. Demonstrate the same actions and values you expect from them, show professional integrity and they will follow.

Actions speak louder than words so be mindful of what you say and don’t contradict yourself. Listen to your team, take responsibility for your own actions and let them do their thing while you focus on the big picture tasks for your company. Work side by side with your team and they will feel more motivated to meet the deadlines.

Oh, and one more thing:

Do you use Specstimate?

Often bad time estimates lead to missing a deadline. Unclear requirements or missed emails affect the timetable of a project. Specstimate is the best tool that will help you write better estimates for your clients and better tasks breakdown for your team. Use Spectimate and you will never miss a deadline again.