Any tasks given that are past their due dates will be returned inordinately quickly, at a higher than expected quality.
Any tasks given without a sense of urgency, threat, or liability will be forgotten and summarily dismissed until their due date is perilously close.
Do you know anyone like this? I’m sure you do. We all do. Some of us are Crisis Specialists – it’s a really bad habit to have. Being constantly inn the grip of reaction is a poor way to get things done – for most of us.
Most people think of “proactivity” the way they do other personality traits, as a quality. You have it or you don’t. I (and most emotional intelligence tools) disagree with that kind of formulaic typing. I see proactivity as a sliding scale, with four points on it something like this:
A few people are consistently strategic – they have a plan, they always have a plan, and if something doesn’t fit into it – well, there’s a new plan just waiting in the back of their minds. These are the Leaders of the world.
Some people are blessed with a sense of permanent proactivity – they like to get things done, and they like them done as soon as possible, so they can move on to more fun things. I call these the Smart Slackers.
Other people, however, are stuck being reactive rather than proactive. They phone it in until they can’t avoid the work any more, and mostly end up failing because of [enter your own reason here]. Them? They’re the Real Slackers.
Everyone else – that dread one percent – they’re Crisis Management Specialists. There’s nothing inherently wrong with being a Crisis Management Specialist, you see them get work done all the time. Firefighters, Police – we assume these jobs are in the CMS category, and sometimes they are. In their case, it’s not a bad thing.
But in your business, it probably is. Marketers, SEO, bloggers – being purely reactive, living without a plan, waiting for the next opportunity to play hero by demonstrating extraordinary timeliness… these are not Superhero traits for these jobs.
It’s better if you realize that falling behind is nothing more than falling behind, and find a way to get ahead instead. Otherwise, you’ll always be managing crises, and are far less likely to manage success.