It’s a busy day in the office. You told Gary that you’d have the report to him by the end of the day, but with all the other fires that have flared up this morning, you haven’t even started. Now you realize that it isn’t humanly possible for you to finish the report today, much less do it well.
Don’t wait until the end of the day arrives, then tell Gary it isn’t done. The time to renegotiate that deadline is the MOMENT you know the deadline isn’t going to happen.
This isn’t just about the project. It’s about living your word and maintaining a clear and direct line of communication. Approach the person who assigned the task and propose an alternative deadline. Having done all that you can do, chances are that they will be fine with the change.
But if you miss the deadline without renegotiating, all bets are off. Even if the deadline itself turns out not to be a big deal this time, the other person is left with one message: If this HAD been an essential deadline, this person would have blown it. It’s incredibly hard to fully regain someone’s trust after that.
And heaven forbid you establish a pattern of missed deadlines. If that’s the case, you might never carry the ball again.
Understand that missing the deadline is almost never the problem. It’s the surprise of the missed deadline that creates chaos and uncertainty. So maintain an open line of communication, and live your word.
We’ve all seen it. A meeting ends, a decision’s been made—then two or three people head off to whisper in a dark corner about how they can undercut that decision. Within 24 hours, they often succeed.
It’s called “meetings outside of meetings,” and it’s deadly to any organization. It’s also downright dishonest. The meeting itself is the place to make your concerns known and to give others the chance to do the same.
Of course that requires that a person really has the best interest of the organization at heart. Unfortunately that’s not always the case, so those who DO have their hearts in the right place need to step in.
If you have a concern about a decision that’s been made, and you weren’t able to get it addressed in the meeting, always go straight to the person who can actually make the change happen, and do it immediately.
If you find yourself talking to Stan about what Oliver should do, STOP! You are meeting outside of the meeting. Instead, take the short walk to Oliver’s office, or pick up the phone and talk directly.
Finally, make sure not to tolerate or enable other people meeting outside of meetings. If someone starts such a meeting, walk straight into the huddle, put up your hand, then point toward the person who needs to hear it!
Gossip is the mother lode of dysfunctional behaviors—the worst poison in a workplace culture.
And it’s an epidemic. In a survey by the American Society for Training and Development, 85 percent of people admitted to gossiping in the workplace, and 21 percent reported gossiping frequently.
This crazy and dysfunctional behavior has been “normalized.”
In fact, a survey by Equisys found that the average employee spends 65 hours a year gossiping at the office. That’s a week and a half that’s completely non-productive. No, it’s worse than that—the average employee spends a week and a half each year actively undermining the health and productivity of the workplace!
You might think you’re off the hook if you only listen but don’t spread it yourself. Fat chance. If you listen, you are the “buyer,” creating the need that the gossip is fulfilling. If you stop listening, they will have to stop dealing.
There comes a time when we have to grow up, and that time is now. That means no spreading gossip and no listening to gossip. Commit with every cell in your body NOT to participate.
If someone comes to you speaking negatively about another person, it is your ethical obligation to say something like, “I can see you’re concerned. Let’s get a productive result here. Let’s go together right now to talk to Janet and make sure you hear each other’s concerns so something changes.”
Now THAT’S a healthy agreement.
There’s a terrible idea I hear once in a while, one that really has to die. “If everything falls apart when I’m on vacation, that’s just job security for me. It proves they need me!”
No, no, no. What it proves is that you don’t care about the health and well-being of your company, which in turn means you don’t care about the people in it—including yourself.
Proving that you don’t care is NOT a good way to prove your worth. Part of your job is to make sure everything goes on like clockwork even when you are not there.
I had a boss once who said, “If you can’t be gone for two weeks and have something in place to get your tasks done in your absence, you are not doing your job.” As a CEO myself, I can pretty much guarantee that a collapse in the Marketing Department registers as a black mark against Marketing from the head down, NOT as a gold star by the name of the manager who left town and let it collapse.
If on the other hand you come back after two weeks and your absence hasn’t caused so much as a ripple, consider it a demonstration of how much you care about the people and the place you left behind.
That’s REAL job security.