Help your employees meet their deadlines more easily
Monday, July 09, 2018
You know the drill: the minutes are counting down until a big, officewide project needs to be completed, and your staff members are frantically working to finish what they should have started days — no, weeks — ago.
If this kind of situation frequently happens in your organization, it may be time to rethink your procedure for setting, monitoring and completing deadlines. Try these smart, simple strategies to revamp your system to get excellent results immediately.
Don't assign late.
A study from Syracuse University, Drexel University and the University of Michigan found that tasks due to come in at the end of the month have a lower-quality outcome, since workers tend to put off what they have to do at the last minute when given a deadline.
Avoid this psychological trap by being as specific as possible. No matter how busy you are, set tasks as a rule as early as possible — at the beginning of the month, week or day -- and lay out clear, concise terms regarding exactly when work is expected to be turned in. No guesswork means no chaos.
Encourage your workers to switch gears when working to meet an EOD deadline.
University of Toronto researchers found that to keep motivated and on-track, workers should move from one aspect of their task to another every 30 minutes, if possible.
That's the point at which your mind gets tired in pursuit of one granular goal. (Performance can bottom out completely under pressure at the 50 minute mark, FYI). Frequent refreshing and focusing on work in these shorter increments increases a worker's desire to keep going throughout a time-pressed day.
Tell your workers to trust their instincts.
It's of course vitally important for your staffers to accurately learn and document all the crucial elements of a project. If the project they're working on requires them to make judgment calls based on estimates or identification under a pending deadline, however, you should advise them not to overthink their perceptions.
An Association for Psychological Science study found that judgment actually tends to be more accurate under a time constraint. In the study, subjects who had to accurately identify the culprit from a lineup in a crime they'd viewed were more likely to choose the right person when they had to trust their guts under a deadline. Deadlines may prompt us to be more confident about what we innately know.
Team up your team.
Let your employees work in small groups to break down the workload, and keep discussing progress. If everyone is on the same page throughout a project, potential problems that bottleneck work will never happen in the first place.
Monitor, but keep a light touch.
Breathing down your employees' necks will simply make them more anxious, not more productive.
Definitely check-in by email or verbally as time progresses toward a deadline, but trust the folks you hired to do their work accurately and efficiently. And let them know you believe in their abilities!
That kind of encouragement can instill all the confidence they need to produce at a high level with flying colors — and time to spare.
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