4 Ways to Handle a Deadline Delay

What should you do when you are going to miss a deadline? There are countless reasons that an upcoming deadline could be delayed. Some deadlines are firm, without wiggle room. Other deadlines may have some flexibility, but no matter the project, if it’s your responsibility to deliver by a deadline, you’ve got to honor that role.

Clients, employers and coworkers are reliant on your ability to meet their expectations. Save yourself the stress from avoiding speaking to your supervisor and tackle the delay with professionalism. If you know that you are going to have a deadline delay, here are 4 proactive tips on how to handle the situation with professionalism and grace:

1. Let your boss know ASAP.

This is imperative. No matter what the reason for the delay, be sure that your supervisor and those affected by the delay are notified. There are emergencies, of course, but if the missed deadline is a result of something that was in your control, that’s hard to explain. The more advanced notice you give, the better for your entire team. You, too, will feel relief that you have communicated effectively and properly the project/deadline status.

2. Exhibit professionalism.

Express your appreciation to your boss for enabling the deadline extension, if it is granted. A thank you goes a long way, and your employer will see your kindness as a form of grace. It can be humbling to ask for an extension. But, your professional reputation will continue to blossom when you take the time to acknowledge the change in project due date.

3. Be honest.

It is always best to be real with your employer. Their success depends on your productivity, so it is important to stick to the facts. Explain yourself, but don’t drag out the explanation. Brevity is key here, so that you don’t appear to be fumbling over your words. Again, the sooner you let your employer know of the delay, the better. It is sufficient to state that you ran into some challenges that you weren’t expecting.

4. Check-in.

Communication is the key to success in the any industry. It is important that you keep in contact with your boss with updates after the original deadline has passed. If you have completed part of the work, offer to turn in what is done. Be realistic with your new deadline expectations and your capabilities. Don’t sign up for something that you can’t commit to.

Ultimately, your word and your actions need to synch-up at work. Be careful not to be a repeat offender. Missed deadlines are difficult, but if you do it rarely, your employer will likely be more patient. Try to train yourself to have your tasks completed a full day before your actual deadline. This isn’t always possible, but it’s helpful for those who struggle with procrastination. Again, there are situations that are out of your control, but if you are your biggest hurdle, set yourself up properly so you can work efficiently. Be kind to yourself, but make sure you hold yourself accountable so that you can be a successful team member.