How to make good decisions when faced with Crazy Deadlines

by Jadine Cleary

When teaching executives from various industries, one of the most common and legitimate concerns is the tremendous work load and responsibilities placed on them.  Employees feel stressed, unappreciated, unheard and are often unable to keep up with the demands placed on them, not to mention the almost continual pressure to be reachable.

Current market research says that 85% of people expect an answer within the hour to an email question or concern with increased expectancy directly related to the seniority of your position.

Our programs teach skills to help individuals increase their capacity to expertly handle these demands and make good decisions when faced with crazy deadlines. Below are 3 important performance keys for how to manage expectations and make exemplary decisions when running at speed.


#1 Control the Race

You are the leader- minimally of yourself and your area.  Always use the opportunity to demonstrate leadership. Tell whoever is involved that you’ve received the information and you are working on it. This way they know you are aware of the situation and they relax knowing you’re on it. And it puts you into action mode.

If you will not be able to answer for a period of time, let the individuals involved know this. Do not assume people know what’s happening in your day.

You can easily set up auto replies on email if you are unavailable for large portions of the day. Manage expectations and control the dialogue.


#2 Know your racing style

Know your default for decision-making and then account for it.

This is much like an athlete remembers specific corrections when executing a skill.

Do you actually know what your default is?

For routine decisions, most leaders fall into one of two camps: The “trust your gut” leader makes highly intuitive decisions, and the “analyze everything” leader wants lots of data to back up their choice. For routine decisions this generally produces OK results and therefore reinforces the individuals choice to continue using this strategy.

In stress or high-stakes situations, individuals are often provoked into extremes of their natural inclination. The highly intuitive leader becomes impulsive, missing critical facts. The highly analytical leader gets paralyzed in data, often failing to make any decision.

Recognize your normal tendency and be aware of how to compensate for it.


#3 Slow down before the curves

Professional Race Car drivers know that in order to finish first, they need to slow down at the right times in order to speed up. When faced with a crazy deadline, PAUSE, communicate, reflect on yourself and actively compensate for your normal tendency.  Sound decisions are best made using your “adult” brain and ensuring you move from analysis to action.

Clearly identify the facts and the risks inherent in the decision and communicate that you understand them. Examine available data sets, identify conflicting facts, and vet them with appropriate stakeholders (especially superiors) to make sure your interpretations align. Ask for input from others who’ve faced similar decisions. Then make the call.

Being a decisive, exemplary decision maker can be difficult when living at speed, but it’s possible when you engage the performance keys outlined here and cement the appropriate patterns for success. Control the race, know your style, make key adjustments and finally slow down to speed up.



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