Learn the most effective way to respond to late deliveries and work products.
Hello, I’m Tony Mayo, The Business Owner’s Executive Coach.
There’s a common situation in business. Well, in life, when someone has been tasked to deliver something at a particular time -and it’s not ready.
You’ve probably been in this situation many times yourself. I’m sure you’ll be in it many times again. We’ll talk about integrity elsewhere, but for today, think about this, put yourself _in_ this situation.
You walked to the person’s desk, you asked for the report, and they say “It’s not ready.”
What’s your automatic, almost instinctive knee-jerk response?
“What happened?” Right?
And the employee starts to explain, or excuse, or describe what happened that prevented them from having it ready. And, like a helpful, insightful manager that you are, you start to solve these problems for them.
But _think_ about this. When the two of you are talking about what happened, what period of time are you dealing with? It’s the past, right? Now, how much power do the two of you have over the past? Zero. Why we talking about that? It does no good.
Here’s a better response: Go to the person’s desk, at the appointed time. You ask for the deliverable. Employee says “It’s not ready.” And, you say, “What are you going to do next?” or “When can you have it ready?”
Now, what period of time are you talking about? The future, which is where we’re all going to live. Let’s make a plan for that.
Now, talking about the future really involves some planning, some detail, and also some restoration of trust.
[Chuckle] I don’t think employees are children. They’re adults. But, there’s some situations in parenting that bring out into broad relief just _basic_ human behavior that shows up in the office too. It was a big threshold of maturity when I trained my children to take responsibility for something they’d done or hadn’t done by apologizing.
The next step, even more powerful, was at the end of that apology, to explain how they were going to get better next time. I want to be convinced by the child or the employee why I should believe this new deadline, this new promise. What are you going to do differently? Why can I rely on you now more than I did before? Because after all, I don’t want my employees or my children to be sorry. I want them to be successful.
So let’s talk about the future and describe specific steps that can be taken to make you more successful in that future.