Crunch times are everywhere, in every aspect of life. I talked last week about a big game of footy - a crunch time - which as far as this fan goes, didn’t go well.
Let’s talk about work crunch times, and how to identify our crunch times.
During a crunch time, you are faced with a moment of exposure. A moment where you and your team will emerge successful, or not. That leads to expectation, urgency and intensity.
Crunch times have 4 characteristics:
1. There is a deliverable, possibly more than one
2. There are several stakeholders
3. Delivery involves a team of people
4. There is a deadline
In addition to the above, crunch time is often characterised by an element of perceived deficiency: a deficiency in either time, resources or both.
In business, there are some really obvious ones: public listing of a company, financial year-end, a large M&A transaction, new system go-live. Then there are the ones that happen more frequently: delivery of projects or audits for a client, month-end results to the CFO - it can feel non-stop.
In today’s age of transformation and change on top of ‘business as usual’, we are delivering to stakeholders throughout the year. Our calendar is full of potential crunch times. But let me ask you: are they really all crunch times? To use the sporting analogy again, this is the equivalent of a grand final that starts in round 1 and lasts the complete season. It’s both unrealistic and unsustainable.
Knowing your crunch times
Have clarity over the deadlines and deliverables. Which ones matter and which ones really matter. They aren’t created equal, and you and your team need to know this, so you can make the right judgment calls and focus on the things that count.
Deliverables, deadlines and stakeholders
Consider the following questions:
• Your deliverable: What is it? Who is it deliverable to? Is it to your customer, the market, your board? Or is it to your line manager, or their manager?
• Your deadline: Who set it? Do you understand why the deadline date has been set? Can and should it be moved?
Armed with your answers, talk to your stakeholders. Take the extra moment to really understand their needs - their ‘why’. After all, they will measure your success by your ability to address these needs. Having this conversation will allow you the opportunity to influence the scope and timing of the deliverable - which may have significant benefits to you and your team.
Having a deep understanding about your deliverables, deadlines and stakeholders will provide you with the information you need to know to identify your crunch times and influence how you lead your people.
So…sweat the big stuff. Know your crunch times and this will provide the basis to provide clarity and confidence to your teams and enable them to focus on what counts.
About Alena: Alena works with leaders and their teams to connect technical and leadership skills so they can deliver to deadline without killing their people. She is a mentor, trainer, facilitator and coach. Contact her today on email@example.com