I’ve got someone on my team that misses deadlines 5 or 6 times per year. That annoys me, but it never seems to be his fault. Sometimes another team didn’t deliver on their promises, or maybe a vendor didn’t provide information he needed. What can I do?
You’re not the only one facing this issue. This scenario is far too common, not only in business but in all walks of life. People don’t like to fail so they look for others to blame, especially when tasks have very specific deliverables with firm deadlines.
The thing to remember is that you assigned the work to this individual. He is responsible for accomplishing it. If he requires input from another person, another team, or even another company, that’s part of the task that you’ve assigned. He must realize that he owns that as well as the things he can do himself. Obtaining information from others is part of the job.
You can address this a couple of ways. First, while delegating the task, make it clear to him that this task may require input from others and that he is responsible for seeking out and obtaining that information. Ask him to regularly report his progress to you. Coach him on ways to handle situations where others are becoming roadblocks for him. Be careful not to solve his problems or to take back the task from him. Help him to accomplish those tasks.
Second, if he unexpectedly misses another deadline and blames someone else, give him feedback. Share with him the importance of timely and accurate progress reports. Communicate that he owned all aspects of the task, including those things being done by others.
By helping him to recognize his ownership of the issue, you’ll help him to grow as an individual.