1. Dependability is being able to rely on others to complete their tasks well.
2. A dependable team is highly productive. Promises are kept, people follow through, things get done, and trust is built.
3. The first step is to switch from time management to priority management. If every team member understands the priorities of the project, they are going to stay on track, which means the whole team stays on track.
The third element of a healthy high-performance team is dependability. This is a pretty straight-forward concept: it means being able to rely on others to complete their tasks well. We all have a pretty good sense of what “dependable” means – with our bosses, co-workers, spouses, and even with elements of the world, like public transportation or a favourite coffee shop.
Dependability matters because it draws on and leads to so many other individual and team factors. For example, a dependable team member is building positive relationships as a by-product of being responsible and reliable. That person’s word is their bond, which boosts morale and confidence all around. And of course, a dependable person – and team – is highly productive. Promises are kept, people follow through, things get done.
Most important, dependability builds trust. People who can be depended on are people who can be trusted. Faith in each other and in the mission is strong.
During parts of our climb up Mount Chimbarazo in Ecuador, the whole group was roped together. There were times, especially at night, when we had to completely depend on one another. The image of climbers tied together is perfect for a dependable team. With such a strong sense of responsibility and connection, you’re not going to let anyone down. If you did, the team could fall off a cliff! In our case, it felt amazing to be tied to everyone else. It was empowering. It’s also empowering for other kinds of teams.
How can you ensure that you and your teams are dependable?
My strong suggestion is that you pivot from time management to priority management. If your team works from a sense of priority, it is going to be highly reliable when it comes to reaching stages and benchmarks. If every team member understands the priorities of the project, they are going to stay on track, which means the whole team stays on track.
I shifted to priority management awhile ago in my life. Long story short: after I ended up in the cardiac ward of a hospital with a heart infection, I reset my priorities: health first, then family, then work.
At the outset of a project, align everyone’s priorities around what is mission-critical. Cut out anything that isn’t essential. As a result, you’ll see dependability rise. People naturally become more reliable when they are engaged in mission-critical activities rather than distracting minutiae.
When my health became mission-critical as my first priority, I was able to complete an Ironman a year after my heart infection knocked me out. Right now, my priority is building great relationships with my family. I spend time with my wife and kids from dinner through to bedtime. I do it every day. That mission-critical focus has made me highly dependable and has been great for the health and strength of my family. The same happens on work teams.
On your teams, spend time at the outset of a project and then periodically afterward asking, what is mission critical? What are the right priorities? You will find that the dependability of each member and the whole team skyrockets.
Today's 1% Gain: Priority Management and the Mission Critical Question
THE KEY TO DEPENDABILITY IS DOING WHAT YOU SAY YOU ARE GOING TO DO. IN A TEAM CONTEXT, IT IS HAVING THE CONFIDENCE THAT PEOPLE ON YOUR TEAM WILL GET THEIR JOB DONE. DESPITE HOW OBVIOUS THIS SOUNDS, IT IS NOT A GIVEN THAT PEOPLE WILL BE ABLE TO FINISH WHAT THEY COMMIT TO. SO MANY OF US ARE INUNDATED WITH URGENT REQUESTS THAT CAUSE US TO GET SIDE-TRACKED FROM IMPORTANT WORK
TWO CRITICAL ACTIONS THAT CAN HELP YOU AND YOUR TEAM BE DEPENDABLE:
1) PRIORITY MANAGEMENT NOT TIME MANAGEMENT. MOVE FROM MANAGING YOUR CALENDAR TO BEING CLEAR ABOUT WHAT MATTERS AND ALLOCATING TIME TO THE TOP PRIORITIES EVERY DAY.
2) START EVERY DAY/MEETING/BLOCK OF WORK WITH THIS QUESTION: “IS THIS MISSION CRITICAL?” THAT WILL ENSURE YOU ARE WORKING ON WHAT MATTERS.
Today’s Exercise: Priority Management
You can download the Priority Management Workbook that will take you through the six steps you and your employees can follow to switch from time management to priority management.