There are so many reasons — some of them perfectly valid — why we miss a deadline. But guess how many of them the manager waiting for you wants to hear? Almost none! Burdened with guilt, we want to exonerate ourselves. Fuelled by shame, we turn to blame. But unfortunately offering up excuses for why you missed your deadline is almost never helpful. And the confident woman understands that!

When we realize we are about to miss a deadline, we sometimes feel overwhelmed and, try to pretend the situation is not happening. We don’t provide any advance notice and just submit a late report. Or, we offer up a variety of external factors that prevented us from achieving our objective. Here is a three-step process the confident woman would use to break the shame-and-blame-loop while recovering from missing a deadline.

Step 1: Communicate ahead

Anticipate missing a deadline? Share the information as soon as you are sure there isn’t much you can do to prevent it. Providing a head’s up can prevent the inconvenience and reduce the impact on those waiting for you and waiting to use the information to meet their own deadlines. Understand that your work has a bigger purpose that you may not be aware of, don’t blow it off.

Step 2: Acknowledge breakdown

Fight the feelings of embarrassment and fear of what your managers or peers may think of you.

Understand that it can happen to anyone, accept responsibility and acknowledge your breakdown. Share the preventative steps you plan to take to ensure this does not happen in the future. Your manager is much more likely to respect this approach rather than having to listen to a long story about what happened.

Step 3: Provide a new timeline

Now that the situation is out in the open, reassess and provide an updated timeline. Setting expectations with your team and manager for when they can receive your work will go a long way towards rebuilding your credibility. Over-communicate during this stage through completion to keep everyone up to date with status changes.

Ultimately, recovering well from a missed commitment can go far in building goodwill and trust in the workplace.


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