Stack says that everyone taking part in a team’s workflow process, from the boss on down, must be consistently reliable. She points out that most people simply assume their coworkers can be trusted to get their jobs done. In fact, since most people trust their coworkers to do their jobs, there are no rewards for being reliable; it’s simply assumed.
But once colleagues begin to let others down by not completing their share of the work, trust quickly erodes, and it’s a challenge to get it back.
“Your name should be synonymous with Mr. or Ms. Reliable, especially when others’ work depends on your output,” Stack says.
But no one is perfect, and for a variety of reasons, many people drop the ball at some point in their career. Stack offers five tips for rehabilitating a reputation as Mr. Unreliable (or avoiding the label in the first place).
1. Get organized. Adopt a simple, consistent method of tracking and filing all the information that crosses your desk. Document everything and store information in your personal time management system.
“Track all the important events in your life on one calendar, from client meetings to birthday parties and deadlines to project milestones,”
2. Keep your promises. Once any team member commits to something, it must be seen through to completion, even if it turns out to be more than was bargained for.
“Do everything humanly possible to meet your obligations, even if that means working your tail off,” Stack says. “But you can’t let this happen often, or you’ll lose any semblance of a real life.”
3. Learn to say no. Many people lapse into unreliability because they take on too much work to begin with. Eventually it adds up and something has to give. So begin with saying “no” to adding tasks to an already-overflowing plate.
“If you have enough on your plate and don’t think you can handle a new task, don’t say “yes” to people just to placate them,” Stack says. “Be honest, so you won’t disappoint others later if you can’t produce.”
4. Promise less than you deliver. Instead of piling too much into an already over-packed schedule, build in some wriggle room. Pad time estimates a bit, just in case something unexpected occurs. If everything goes smoothly, there’s a little extra time to play with.
“Then you can dazzle your colleagues and bosses by over-delivering on your promises,” Stack says.
5. Address your mistakes. When the ball has already been dropped and your reputation has taken a beating, individuals should address the failure right away, and then begin the task of regaining the trust of the boss and colleagues.
“Apologize to the people you’ve let down, accept their frustration, and ask what you can do to make it up to them,” Stack says.
Stack reminds her readers that no one is expected to perform flawlessly all the time, and no one is expected to take on more than their share of work. For anyone who has begun making damaging slips because they are taking on too much, Stack recommends taking proactive measures to preserve a reputation for reliability before it’s blown.
“But if you already have damaged your reputation, you can fix it if you work hard and put these pointers in play,” Stack says.
For information on workplace productivity, visit http://www.TheProductivityPro.com, Email Laura@TheProductivityPro.com, or call 303-471-7401.
About Laura Stack:
Laura Stack is a time management and productivity expert who has been speaking and writing about human potential and peak performance since 1992. She has implemented employee productivity improvement programs at Wal-Mart, Cisco Systems, UBS, Aramark, and Bank of America. Stack presents keynotes and seminars internationally for leaders, entrepreneurs, salespeople, and professional services firms on improving output, lowering stress, and saving time in the workplace.
The president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc., a time management firm specializing in high-stress environments, Stack is the bestselling author of five books: “What to do When There’s Too Much to do” (2012); “SuperCompetent”