Dependability, Consistency and Timeliness
When it comes to our effectiveness within an institution, there are many capacities and competencies that allow us to be effective – everything from relational skills to expertise within our field of training or responsibility. There is one such capacity that merits attention: that one is dependable and consistent and timely . . . particularly when it comes to doing what you say you will do and doing it by the agreed upon date or time when that task would be done.
I have been teaching graduate level theology for over 30 years. And one of things that consistently impresses me is the ways in which some students live graciously with deadlines for the submission of assignment and others consistently miss those deadlines. And the inevitable happens: “please have mercy and give me an extension.” Well, it is not a matter of judgment or mercy! But more to the point, I wonder: what is really happening here? Without doubt there are times when the unforeseen happens . . . a medical emergency, a crisis in the household, any number of things that were outside our control and threw of our schedule and our commitments. And yet, as often as not, what I see happening is a simple lack of attention to an ordered life that is dependable, consistent and timely where we do what we say we will do and do it when we say we will do it.
Trust building within organizations is often subtle and incremental; and one of the ways that trust is fostered is over time when a person does what they say they will do and by when they said they would do it.
We agree: this needs to be done; could it be on my desk by Monday of this coming week? And, without any fanfare, it is done. It is a pattern of our life and work to do things by the time we said we would do them. No procrastination; no claiming extenuating circumstances. And, of course, this means that we do not over promise. We know our limits and our commitments. And so we agree to a deadline with the understanding that we know ourselves and the limits of our lives and we respect others.
It is not just students who miss deadlines. I am chagrined when I know of faculty who do not submit their grades in a timely fashion; they do not grade the papers of their students relatively soon after the assignments have been submitted and within the time frame that the institution has determined is an appropriate deadline for assignments to be graded and grades submitted to the Registrar. I’ll be blunt: it is a kind of disrespect of the student who has submitted their work and would value getting a review of their work.
But more broadly within the organization, doing what we say we will do is crucial. And doing it by the deadline? Just as crucial. Let’s agree to make it a habit of the way we will work and the way we will work with each other. And when we are about to miss a deadline, we let the other person know . . . with clarification, explanation. But it is the exception; our norm? – we are dependable, consistent and timely in our work.