20 Oct Surviving Deadlines in a Small Business
The date is set, the plans are made and the rush begins. In a small business, deadlines are chaotic. The responsibility can only be split so far. In the past two weeks, I’ve had two important event deadlines to have a lot of things assembled and ready by. But with my team’s help, we’ve met these deadlines–not without stress–but with professional results. Over my time in business management I’ve learned these lessons again and again. Here’s how to mobilize your small team in high pressure situations.
Partner With Your Team–Being a small shop, I find it important and valuable to treat my employees with an attitude of partnership. I value their input and creative ideas. We use a system that I find works really well: I give my team my Number One–this is something I want executed in a particular way. My team then has an opportunity to respond with a Number Two–how they think that item can be changed or perfected. So if I want a particular picture to be used on my blog, they can respond with a picture they think is better and why. I then give my Number Three: I hear you and here is how I want to proceed. Using standard procedures like this can really help your team feel a part of the vision for your company. Then when deadlines come, you can work together with appropriately open communication to meet your goals.
Empower Your Team–Hopefully, you have found a core team you can trust. Because crunch time calls for sharing out the responsibility. So if you don’t have a core team you trust, then I strongly recommend finding one. As a small business you have to trust your core. The best way to hit deadlines is to start by empowering your team through communication. Make sure they have all of the information you have and be clear about who you want to handle which task. Clear communication sets them up for success. You can also empower your team by being quick to get them what they need. If someone needs a computer program to finish a task, sit down with them and make sure you understand their need. If it’s a financial purchase that is a bit heady, then consider whether it will be used long-term. And if not, try to brainstorm together alternatives (maybe there’s a 30-day trial!). But most importantly, empower your team to meet the deadline by not spending too much time making decisions about these items. Remember, your delay equals their delay. And their delay might put off the deadline. And a missed deadline is suffering revenue.
Encourage Your Team–The workload might be hectic until that deadline is reached, but that doesn’t mean your team has to feel panicked. Remember, if you have a team you can trust then they are probably just as stressed about the deadline as you are. If you’ve partnered with your team well, they will also feel invested in producing good results and achieving deadlines. So honor that by making sure you communicate positive feedback. Post deadline is the time to bring up areas that could have been better (unless something is immediately a big problem). Let them know you appreciate the hard work and late hours. If they have to work through lunch, order in! The community aspect of eating free food, even if not in the same room, will give them a boost through the lack of break.
Remember that in stressful situations a team that feels its value is going to work harder and better than a team that doesn’t!
What do you find important when it comes to surviving deadlines?
See you tomorrow to dig into real estate!