If you want to wow your customers, the formula is simple: Do what you say you’re going to do. This means if you agree to a specific deadline, you need to meet it – no ifs, ands, or buts. However, this is often easier said than done.
5 Tips for Nailing Deadlines Every Time
Your business is built on the value you add to the marketplace. And while value comes in a number of flavors, your dependability is a very important factor. If you meet deadlines on a consistent basis, you’ll become known as the business that others can rely on.
Here are a few ways to improve your ability to do so:
1. Set Smarter Goals
You’ve probably heard of the SMART acronym for setting goals. It’s one of the most widely-used frameworks in the business world. It highlights the importance of setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. But there’s a different version of this framework that might be even more illuminating for you.
Author and CEO Michael Hyatt adapts his team’s goal setting to a SMARTER system. This approach says that goals should be specific, measurable, actionable, risky, timebound, exciting, and relevant. If you use this system in conjunction with deadlines, you’ll be much more likely to develop a plan that gets you from start to finish in an efficient manner.
2. Under Promise
Too many teams hamstring their efforts from the start by setting tight deadlines that are unrealistic and not attainable. It’s important that you work with your clients to get ahead of things. The old adage of underpromising and overdelivering is key.
If you’re confident that you can finish a project in 21 days, try setting the deadline to 28 days. Then do your best to get it done in 14 days. Best case: You wow the client by finishing the project a week or two earlier than promised. Worst case: You come in right on time.
3. Use Project Management Software
It’s easy to get disorganized when you have a bunch of moving parts operating independently. This is especially common in today’s remote environment where people and files are fragmented across dozens of devices and networks. The right project management software can make this much easier and less stressful.
Box project management software is arguably one of the best centralized workspaces on the market. If you’re looking for an option that’s heavily focused on file storage and collaboration, this is your answer. (It’s especially good for sending large files to clients and team members.)
4. Create Specific Checkpoints
This may sound like elementary advice to any experienced project manager, but it’s amazing how many times the idea of checkpoints gets ignored. If you have a long-term goal that’s 90 days out, you should have weekly and monthly goals (at a minimum). If you want to get really specific, have deadlines due every Wednesday and Friday.
5. Cultivate Accountability
It’s easy for one person to lose motivation and screw up an entire project. When people feel like their actions affect nobody but themselves, they’re less likely to take initiative and remain disciplined. But if they feel like their performance directly impacts a coworker that they know and like, it’ll light a fire beneath them.
One suggestion is to create hardcore accountability within each project team. Don’t just ask people to check in with one another – raise the stakes. Create teams of two or three and make it clear that if one person on the team misses a deadline, every person on the team will be penalized.
When you start making people reliant on the performance of their team members, it creates an entirely new mindset. Accountability becomes less about checking in and more about challenging each other to give everything they’ve got.
Follow Through… Every Time
You’re only as good as your word. While that statement might sound like something a wise grandfather might tell his grandson, it’s actually a very sound piece of business advice. In a marketplace where most businesses are focused on profits above all else, doing what you say you’re going to do will set you apart in a profoundly positive way.
Hopefully, this article gives you some tangible ways to do just that.