They promise to get you what you need, but nothing shows up. You follow up and they don’t respond. You finally get a hold of them and they seem indignant that you would expect them to be accountable. The excuses and resentments pile up.
What do you do when others don’t follow through on their promises – especially when it prevents you from performing according to your agreements?
In this video, we captured the main take aways from our recent Best Practices forum, diving deeper first into understanding the behavior and the resulting power struggles. We then touched on some surprising strategies to turn the situation around – and you may find that most strategies are the opposite of what you’d expect!
The video is less than 20 minutes, if you’d like to check it out. Or for a quicker overview, I’ve written a few bullets below that cover the main points.
Overview – Dealing with People who Don’t Meet Deadlines:
- There are two main reasons people do not meet deadlines: (1) They didn’t anticipate all that would be involved with what they agreed to, or (2) They did anticipate the investment, but didn’t feel comfortable mentioning it.
- We tend to villainize people who don’t meet deadlines because of the impact they have on us. We think of them as unreliable and undependable, and we assume they don’t care.
- That said, when you actually hear honest stories from people about times they didn’t meet deadlines or follow through on their promises, what we find is that there is usually quite a bit of angst or other emotion involved. In other words when we think people “don’t care” we are usually wrong.
- Many times people don’t know they can say no or disagree. Or they may fear the consequences of admitting up front that they don’t know how to make something happen on time. They may even avoid the issue because they don’t know how to resolve it.
- In order to make a change, we need to start with an authentic dialogue. The dialogue has to be focused not so much on the fact that something needs to get done, but what are the reasons someone may not want — or not be able to get it done. And we need to help make it feel safe and acceptable for them to share that information.
- It’s also important for all of us to be more realistic about what we can achieve in a given time frame. Most of us can’t complete the to-do list we made in the morning, but we don’t figure that out until the afternoon. And then we repeat the same ineffective behavior pattern the next day. Open dialogue about what can reasonably be completed in a given time frame can help people learn to plan better. And when we have mutual understanding about how challenging it can be to set realistic expectations, this helps free others up to be honest with us, as well.
Most of the time, when others fail to meet deadlines for us, we can trace the issue back to communication. The one component that is missing is open, honest, dialogue and real permission for people to be candid about their capabilities and their reservations for a project. This is easier said than done – but going through a process of making it safe for people to say no before they commit to something actually increases the likelihood of buy-in, which directly affects their willingness to take ownership and to be accountable on their own.
If you are struggling with someone who is impacting you negatively because you can’t depend on them, feel free to reach out – a few coaching sessions might make a huge difference for you!