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The On-Time, On-Target Manager
How a "Last-Minute Manager" Conquered Procrastination
Late for a Very Important Date
Bob the Manager woke up earlier than usual one Monday morning. He always set his alarm for 6:00 A.M. so he had time for a half-hour walk around the small lake that was two short blocks from his house. This day, though, his alarm went off at 5:30 A.M. That's because he had a 7:30 A.M. breakfast meeting with his boss, Dave.
Bob was a little apprehensive about the meeting. He wasn't sure his longtime dream of being promoted from Team Manager to Group Manager was coming true, or if the meeting would spiral downward into an unwelcome discussion of a few minor "performance issues" in his past.
In any event, by rolling out of bed a half hour earlier, he'd have time for his walk and would still be able to make the meeting on time.
Bob completed his brisk walk, took a quick shower, sprayed on his favorite cologne, got dressed, and tied a perfect knot in his most "corporate" tie. He hadn't worn a tie for several years -- what with the advent of relaxed dress codes in the business world -- so he struggled a bit with that stupid knot.
Then he strapped on his very expensive, highly accurate Swiss watch and noted the time. Oops! He was running a tad behind. Getting dressed "Just right" had taken more time than he'd anticipated.
Not to worry, Bob the Manager thought. I can make up some time on the road, he assured himself. He threw his PDA -- his palmtop computer -- and his sleek aluminum-clad laptop into his computer bag and got into his car.
He glanced at his watch again. He compared it with the clock in the car. Yep. Still running behind. Better call Dave.
When he reached the next red light, Bob the Manager dug through his computer bag, found his PDA, looked up the number, and called his boss.
"Dave here," said the voice on the other end.
"Dave, this is Bob. I'm running a little behind. Are you at the restaurant yet?"
"Yes," said the voice. "And so far, you're fifteen minutes late."
"I know. I've run into traffic," Bob said, even though he knew that traffic this day was no worse than usual. He could easily have allowed for it if he had thought things through ahead of time. "I'll get there as soon as possible."
"Good," said Dave. "I've got a full day going here."
When Bob arrived, he parked his car and practically ran to the door. He was out of breath when he walked inside and scanned the restaurant for Dave.
"About time," Dave said when Bob approached the table.
"Sorry, Dave. I hate to keep you waiting," Bob huffed and puffed, still gasping for oxygen. He took his seat and looked at Dave with considerable embarrassment.
Dave hesitated for an uncomfortable length of time before he finally responded. "Bob, how long have you been with Algalon Micro?"
"Six ... no, seven years, I think."
"Seven is about it," Dave agreed. "And what concerns me is that in all that time, you still don't seem to have grasped what's really important to us."
Bob the Manager began to tense up. "I'm really sorry, but what have I missed exactly?"
"This is a fast-moving business, Bob. Technology advances not by the year, or month, or even week. We are on the fast track. My view is that things change daily. As the saying goes, 'The cheese has moved.' And it keeps moving at lightning speed."
"I do know that," Bob reassured his boss.
"If we're going to compete," Dave continued, "we have to remain keenly aware of what the competition is doing, and leap ahead of them."
"I know that, too, Dave."
"If that's the case, Bob, why are many of the forecasts you prepare delivered to my office late? Why is every budget turned in at the last possible moment? Why is 'Just in time' inventory management such an ongoing struggle for your team? As Team Manager, you have the responsibility to make certain that essential events take place on time."
"Yes, I know, Dave. I assure you, I'm doing my best."
"Bob, last month you got two days behind in the delivery of motherboards to one of our biggest customers because you failed to order one little capacitor on time. That means our customer lost an entire day of production."
"I remember what happened exactly," Bob the Manager protested. "I was buried in paperwork at the time. Sometimes there just aren't enough hours in the day."
Dave wasn't buying Bob's excuse. "We just got word that we lost that account to Dyad Technologies. Seems they claim that they can deliver the boards on time. Apparently, their other customers are willing to back up that claim."
Bob the Manager turned red-faced. "I can't believe we lost that customer. I thought we were in solid with them. It was just one little slipup."
"This is business in today's world. According to the people in sales, your little slipup is going to cost our company almost $200,000 a year."
"I had no idea ... "
"Well, now you do."
"In all my years here, I believe that's the only time I've blown a deadline, Dave. And it's certainly the first time we've ever lost any business because of me."
"It's not just the lost business, Bob. It's your whole pattern of just barely making deadlines. That pattern not only has impact on the quality of your work, but it causes delays in other departments. You always seem to come in right under the wire, and quite a bit of that shows in your work. You rush to get things done when time is running out, and you make mistakes. Some of them have been costly, whether you know it or not. We just can't tolerate that kind of sloppiness at Algalon. Your work habits are creating stress for your coworkers, and I'm almost certain you have to be feeling the stress yourself."The On-Time, On-Target Manager
How a "Last-Minute Manager" Conquered Procrastination. Copyright © by Ken Blanchard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.