A year ago, I ran a survey amongst smaller, medium-sized companies’ owners and managing directors.

One of the questions I asked them was what they would like to see more of from the members of your management team.

These are the things they came up with.

In this short series of videos, we’re going to be looking at each one of them in a little more depth.

In this video, I want to talk about hitting deadlines

Douglas Adams famously said that he loves deadlines. He loves the sound they make as they go whooshing by.

We’ve got to be honest about what a deadline is. Quite often, it’s just an arbitrary line in the sand that we draw, using the dimension of time to frame action and create commitment.

I’ve got a big question in my mind about just how motivational deadlines are, particularly if they’re imposed on someone…

…or there wasn’t an examination of what might get in the way of the deadline being met.

Sometimes deadlines slow things down. Perhaps we could get things done much quicker if we just got on and did it.

There can be a tendency to leave action until closer to the deadline.

What you really don’t want to happen when there’s a deadline in play is to communicate that the deadline hasn’t been met on the day of the deadline.

As with so many things, it’s all in the setup. It’s all in the conversation.

When the deadline is established, have we really understood why it is important and dealt with all of the potential obstacles and barriers to meeting the deadline?

Has the discussion created motivational tension in the people who have got to meet the deadline to go away and execute?

Because there is no point in setting deadlines unless you’re going to accompany them with sanctions or rewards, or a combination of both.

A deadline is just another form of target. One of the things I teach in my leadership program is targets once discussed are no longer negotiable.

So think on, next time you set or accept a deadline. Are you clear and really committed to actually achieving it?