One of the things that managers and team leaders are looking for in people who they can depend on. Being dependable is so essential that I’d almost put it before technical skills if I had to choose. Being dependable and reliable is also an extremely well-perceived trait for managers to possess and actively nurture not only for the members of a team. While this article primarily addresses work and career-related topics, I also think this might find some degree of applicability for our personal lives and relationships. Being dependable is universal after all. It’s a lot about commitment.
I’m not saying that being dependable is the most critical thing in your career, but it can certainly help you to keep your position and even get promotions if you keep up the good work. You might not manage and actively build your personal brand, but it exists. It’s out there and acts as your professional reputation in many ways. I always tried to keep that up myself and be a dependable and reliable member of any team I was part of. When you give someone your word, it becomes a “deadlock commitment.”
“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”
― Carl Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst
Your name is a seal of quality
So what is this really about? Giving a deadlock commitment is to accept a task with a specified due date (or within the same day) and delivering it as promised. But why is that special? You might think that this is the usual way of going about your business but in reality, it rarely is. Usually one asks someone else to prepare a particular action item, and often it’s delivered later than what was committed or perhaps in an inferior quality/quantity. Sometimes the requester isn’t hearing back from the assignee at all and has to ask and remind a few times. This is the reality in many organizations all over the world.
This is often not the fault of some people in particular. It’s merely the kind of culture that is driven by the people and operations for whatever reason. It could be that “it’s always been that way,” which is pretty popular by the way, or it could be that “they didn’t have time for it.” Well, don’t make me quote Dave Crenshaw, the time management expert now, but I think we all have the same 24 hours in our day and it’s up to us how we use and manage our time.
And because this kind of behavior is almost considered to be the usual thing to happen by now, this makes it an excellent opportunity for you, to stand out as an individual. And how do you go about that? How do you get known for your deadlock commitments and for your reliability? It’s simple to explain but not easy to master and follow through.
Simple but requires persistence
When someone asks you for a favor or simply assigns you to a task, you talk about it to understand the activity, and then you deliver. You deliver on time and with the quality and quantity that you agreed to. Or better even – you overdeliver. While you’re in a flow, you just add so much on top of what was needed, that your client/partner/boss/whatever can basically go cherry-picking for what they like the most out of all the things that you produced.
Do you need to book your time against something for tracking? Call it client relationship management. Because if you keep up with that, this will definitely be a huge part of how others see you and the company you are a part of. I’ve been doing that for many years, and I really enjoy being that guy who always does what he says he’ll do. A little overtime here and there should not be an issue too for as long it stays under control, and you get your time off on other days. That’s something you’ll figure out along the way, or you can consult your manager / HR rep if you need help.
But what if…
If something unforeseen happens that will impact your agreed delivery date/time, you absolutely have to check in with that person and see how that delay has an effect on their work. Talk about it and find a solution together. If you communicate properly and for good reasons, you’ll always find a good solution that works for all parties.
“When it all comes down, will you say you did everything you could?”
― Tim McIlrath, American punk rock musician
If some new task hits you with a super high priority one super plus mark on it, it might also be in the interest of your client to change priorities and set new deadlines to make sure both items are on time. Most importantly though, talk about it. Don’t let the deadline pass without delivering anything and without any kind of explanation. This is what they expect from anybody but not from you. This is what the deadlock commitment is about.
You’re the go-to-person who always gets the job done
Over time this will be a part of you managing the expectations of the service you are delivering, and I’m thrilled to say that I always felt good about shaping the experience for the better whether it’s an internal task or something a client has asked me to do. Managers don’t need people who have top skills but can’t be relied on. They like people with proper skills, but they love people who they can depend on to deliver great products on time and fundamentally solve their problems without much micro-management. This is what service is about. Taking care of someone else’s problems. If that’s not your play, you might be in the wrong game.
I hope this was useful to some of you, as I know that many of the readers here are career starters, but I also hope it was an exciting read for all the senior staff, managers and execs alike. I’d be delighted to hear your own thoughts about this and learn how you tackle or used to tackle, this kind of issue. Feel invited to share your feedback below in the comments. Thanks for reading!
Photo credit: The feature image “long-legged artist” was done by Jakob Montrasio. Meme GIF “Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That” by Giphy and the lower GIF animations are from the portfolio of Christopher Isak.