The current downturn in the economy has been tough on those who have been laid off, but employees who haven’t received pink slips are also suffering; they have been left behind to juggle the workload of 2 and sometimes 3 people at a time. Not fun!
In addition to living in a constant state of worry that tomorrow might be their last, employed workers have many additional duties and responsibilities that can lead to career overload. Out of fear and/or overwhelm, both staffers and management-level professionals can get into the habit of overpromising and under-delivering.
Are you guilty of this? I can tell you first-hand about situations where there is a DEADLINE that slips away leaving me wondering (and worried) about what is going on! Being the quintessential Type A, I begin my email and phone campaign to ascertain the whereabouts of the anticipated files.
Undaunted by a lack of response I wait five minutes and begin again with a renewed sense of vigor (muttering under my breath all the while). Indeed, the files show up; they are late; I am perturbed. (It’s actually stronger than that, but I am calm right now).
Why wait until the deadline is looming over your shoulder? Do you like that sensation of fear? Try mountain climbing or walking on hot coals. That should do the job for you just fine. Here are a few things to think about in relation to how you conduct yourself on the job with respect to professional reliability:
- Beware! Unreliability can undermine your career very quickly. If you promise someone that a project or task will be complete by a certain date, follow through.
- If for any reason, you are nearing a deadline and do not think you can realistically achieve it, let your superior know as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the deadline has passed. You may fear being reprimanded; but rest assured, not saying anything and failing to deliver on time only makes matters worse and can wreak havoc on your credibility.
- Avoid commitments and promises you can’t keep. Never ‘no show’ for a meeting or appointment without communicating. Unless you have had your mouth sewn shut or are unconscious, you should make it your business to let others know.
- Even if you get held up by 10 minutes, make a phone call before the scheduled meeting time to let others know – it comes down to basic professional courtesy.
- If you are a manager, these rules apply to you, too. When dealing with subordinates, few things will undermine the respect you receive more. If your staff members see you as someone who is unreliable, they will not trust your leadership.
While juggling too many duties without enough time is a true challenge, it should never be an excuse. Showing respect for others’ schedules is the key to workplace reliability. Don’t say yes to anything you cannot truly achieve on time and be sure to keep the channels of communication open.
A quick email to share project status or rearrange deadlines is by far preferable to being branded a ‘better late than never’ worker. In the long run, you will improve your career position by consistently being your word, no matter how much of a workload you are juggling.