It can be quite challenging when you’re working with an executive who announces deadlines without prior consultation, particularly when the deadlines seem unfeasible. We may not always have the power to change this behavior, and it’s a situation I’ve encountered myself in the past.
For instance, at big conferences such as those held by Apple, you might often see someone announcing a new feature or product to be launched in the coming year. This might be the first time their team has heard this news, and it can create a sense of pressure to deliver on these promises.
This type of situation often arises with charismatic figures who are comfortable with public speaking, and they often rely on us to make their vision a reality. I understand this can be difficult, but it’s important to remember that we may not always be able to change their approach.
In such challenging circumstances, I advocate for the effective use of project management deliverables. This allows us to shift the narrative from an impossible task to a business discussion. This approach is beneficial as it prevents us from being labeled as uncooperative or difficult, which could potentially limit our career growth.
When we’re confronted with seemingly impossible deadlines, our initial response should be to clarify and manage expectations. This involves a thorough understanding of the scope and the specific requirements needed by the given date.
Even with this clarity, the task may still be daunting. In such cases, collaborate with your team to create a few contingency plans. It’s crucial to be transparent about the difficulties involved and to clearly outline the associated risks.
For example, if your organization has never released a new product within a three-month timeframe, that’s a significant risk to acknowledge. However, instead of refusing the task or refusing to try, frame your response constructively.
Leverage your team’s expertise to provide clarifications and move the project forward. Prioritization is key in such scenarios. In your status reports and presentations, highlight how meeting the challenging goal has affected other aspects of the project.
Navigating these situations can be tough, but by employing clear communication, effective planning, and strategic prioritization, we can work towards achieving these ambitious goals.