“There’s never time to do it right, but there’s always time to do it over.”
These words ring true so many times for communication professionals who are pressed by clients to deliver products and services in a flash. And, many times errors occur as a result of rushing around, and you end up doing things over again anyway. Suddenly there’s time to start over that didn’t exist at the beginning to do it right the first time. Why is that?
Are client demands unrealistic just ‘because they can?’ Are they mean-spirited people who like to torture the Communication Department? Do they have a bet going with someone else in the company?
No, no and no.
So, what’s really driving the need for speed?
Communication is an afterthought or they forgot to include communication in their project plans
This might be indicative of a bigger problem: you’re either being taken for granted or invisible to the project manager. Every time you pull a rabbit out of a hat and meet some impossible deadline, you can be setting expectations for the future. You are inadvertently ‘training’ the project manager that unrealistic timelines are ok.
Instead, make sure you’re part of the planning process from the beginning. Insert yourself into kick off meetings. Get involved at the beginning so you understand the overall timeline and can contribute to it. Be clear about what is reasonable in order to produce the best results.
They don’t understand what’s involved in communications
These people likely have spoken to the Communication Department but don’t understand the time it takes to produce a great product. They don’t understand your own internal processes and they haven’t allowed enough time for reviews and approvals. Most importantly, they haven’t accounted for production time (printing, posting, etc.). Since they don’t understand the steps and time required, they haven’t budgeted for it properly.
As a result they wait too long before actively engaging Communications and factoring in all the steps needed for you to do your work.
They made promises to their bosses before factoring in communication
These folks tend to want to impress the boss with their own speed and deftness. They compress timelines, or pad their own, at the expense of the Communication Department. This tends to backfire since most bosses understand not only the importance of communication, but also how long it takes to produce great plans and tactics. Bosses are therefore skeptical about project timelines and the project manager dooms him/herself to failure.
If any of these scenarios sound familiar, you can be proactive and ‘lead from behind’ with those project managers who have failed you in the past. Keep in regular touch. Find out what’s coming. Tell the project manager when you’ve scheduled time for their project. If there are project delays, be sure to inform the project manager that your timelines will also have to be extended.
And, if you can, stop rescuing those who just can’t – or won’t – get on board. Their lack of planning does not constitute your emergency. Well, at least not all the time.