I am a new manager in charge of a 7 people's marketing team, started 3 weeks ago.

I am coming from a corporate results oriented culture. The new company has a more relaxed approach tp business, but the management wishes to increase efficiency and excellency.

I just have learned that the former head of my team had never addressed any deadlines and the team never worked under pressure. None of them is either a true professional and the work was never done properly and at its best.

When I have started, my boss had straight away addressed tight deadlines for me and the team. From my side I have tried to make sure that we deliver. The team was not happy about new working conditions under deadlines and pressure. I just have heard that they started complaining around about it.

I wonder what can be done under these circumstances? The management confirms that we need to address the deadlines. However I have to make sure that the team is supporting this as well - deliver efficiently, is willing to learn, fit in under the new management style...

I know that the first 3 months I should not change anything, but as I have to address the deadlines, I have no choice...


Many thanks for your ideas.

aylim14's picture

No intention to hijack the post but I have the same problem. I've been in the role just 2 weeks more than you, and I have a similar problem. I wanted to fit in, but i realized I can't follow the recommendations strictly of having no changes (podcast: first rule for every new manager).

Biggest reason was the same as what you mentioned. The team I'm handling (4 guys) are not used to having deadlines. Everything has been "when available" and, being a high D-C, it makes me sick and sad at the same time that upper management has been tolerating it. But that aside, I did made some changes 3 weeks in. 

I implemented a weekly staff meeting within my team. There was none before. I had to do it. And the O3s - which are acceptable and recommended in the cast as well. 

As for the deadlines, I don't make it so much as a big deal. I simple added some dates and (sometimes) exact times for the deadlines. (I know, it should be on every deadline, but i forget at times). It's like I'm combining the recommendations from numerous casts like: 

  • the how to create an sense of urgency podcast
  • the positive and negative feedback before its time. 
  • how to assign tasks

So the basic Horstman's Law of Project Management, who does what by when...task with deadline (date and time) then i input it in my iPhone reminders waiting for list. When it pops up, and I haven't received a notification from them, i ask it from them. Then negative feedback before its time, can you meet the deadline next time? then I go away. 

Sometimes they said, oh, i forgot, i'll send it now or something like that. I said ok. Thanks. 

If they miss it, and said they'll just do it or make up an excuse, i give another deadline and then walk away. I try not to be so picky because i just started my O3 with them this week. So the relationship is not yet "there". Plus, they're all grownups, they know that when i ask for the deliverable when we both agreed it's due, they know they didn't do their part. And I leave it at that for now. In a couple of months, i can get to the more formal feedback model and if it still occurs, systemic feedback. Of course, i write things down on my notebook for my reference in the future. 

Solitaire's picture

One thing that can work well is to get them to set their own deadlines.

If you have an idea of when something must be completed by then tell them (e.g. next day, next week, next month etc), but ask them exactly when they can get it done by.

For example:

You say: "xyz report is really urgent and x department needs it by next Wednesday, when can you get that completed?"

Hopefully they will say: "next Wednesday is ok, I'll have it done by 3pm"

If they say they have too much to do, then ask them what else they are working on and what other deadlines they have and help them prioritise the work if needed.

The important fact is that they are agreeing to their own deadline and you can remind them of that (gently) if they are late. And eventually introduce feedback about meeting or not meeting the deadlines that they proposed and the impact of that behaviour.

Another thing that can help is to put into context why things are needed within tight deadlines now. Not just "because your manager says so", but because of the impact on a different department or person, or on customers for example. So find out the true reason/motivation behind your bosses desire to get stuff done quicker, then pass this on to the team. If they understand why more urgency is needed, other than "because it is", they are more likely to help.

You mention the change is to improve "efficiency and excellency", so find out what this means. Sounds like it might be to win more marketing business and long-term business.

Most people don't like change and unfortunately people will sometimes complain. If you implement one to ones quickly as well, you can start to get to know your staff and hopefully they'll start to talk to you about their concerns and you can explain the reasons to them that these changes need to be implemented (although can explain this to them anyway).

Remember that if you stick to your guns "the change" of tighter deadlines will soon become standard practise and then second nature to people and hopefully they will stop complaining.

I went through a similar experience with the team I manage now and have been managing for 3 years. When I started there were not many deadlines in place and I needed to implement shorter deadlines to improve customer satisfaction ultimately. I was persistent and enthusiastic about the reasons for changing and improving and after a while that rubbed off on my team :)

Good luck!


DRD282's picture
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I believe it is in the "Sense of Urgency" podcast ( that they address this. I could be misremembering, but I'm pretty sure. 

But also in that podcast, Mark goes through how to roll it out, including a a great sample conversation with the team. It's definitely worth a listen. Also, remember the MT mantra: "Don't introduce a management change without first introducing he management change." That's what his sample conversation is about.

Tori_74's picture

 Thank you all so much, very useful information!!