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My Coworkers’ Procrastination Is Making Me Look Bad – How To Urge Unreliable Colleagues Meet A Deadline

Every month, I publish an internal newsletter which contains articles submitted by ten employees from different parts of the company.  This information is always due on the first of the month, but two of my “reporters” never meet the deadline.  Sending them reminders doesn’t help at all.

As a result, I have to delay publication of the newsletter until their material finally arrives.  This not only creates issues with printing and delivery, but also makes me look bad.  How can I make my reminders more effective?

Marie’s Answer

People who ignore deadlines drive their more organized colleagues absolutely nuts.  Unfortunately, new and improved reminders are not likely to be the solution.  As long as you continue accepting late material, these inconsiderate coworkers will continue ignoring your pleas, because they really don’t care about your problems.

Instead, you must take your power back by refusing to let the stragglers dictate your schedule.  Inform all reporters that the publication deadline will now be strictly enforced, even if some articles are missing.  If you stick to your guns, either the procrastinators will learn to be more prompt or you will learn that they need to be replaced.

Previously, you may have rejected this approach because you fear having empty pages.  However, the key is to create a workable back-up plan.  Locate substitute material to use as a replacement.  Simplify layout adjustments by putting the tardy people at the end.  If these are regular features, insert a note indicating they were not available.

If you lack the authority to make these decisions, explain the problem to your boss and ask for support.  To regain control, you must stop coddling these laggards, so if they remain unreliable, the ultimate solution is to find some new reporters.