“Starting a new project is like falling in love. It’s exciting, emotionally arousing, infused with the natural motivator of novelty. Perhaps we even get obsessive about this new activity. We imagine it as “all good” and don’t pay much attention to potential obstacles, negatives, or challenges we may soon face. Then, after some time goes by, the activity or book or lessons (or relationships) turn into harder work than we expected. It takes longer to complete than we’d hoped, or there are some tedium and drudgery involved. We realise we aren’t sure about the next step. Stuck, we grind to a halt.’’
– Psychology Today
You’re a manager, or maybe your role is more operational. Whatever your job title, your day involves organising something or other, whether it’s projects or people. What kind of organiser are you?
Are you known for delivering? Do you have a reputation for following through on your word? Do people trust you to do what you say you’ll do by the deadline you’ve set? Being known for completing on time and always delivering is one of the key ways to build an exceptional professional reputation. It helps you gain credibility with your colleagues and team, and it makes you accessible in a work context because people always know where they stand. If that sounds like you, you’re already a great completer-finisher.
On the other hand, you might be an enthusiastic starter but not a completer, someone who kicks projects off with the best intentions, but somehow doesn’t quite manage to complete them. Do you frequently almost miss deadlines but manage to deliver by the skin of your teeth at significant personal cost? Are you always scurrying across that finishing line in a panic, stressed out by the rush?
If that sounds like you, you’ll already know that taking on too many projects or championing initiatives that you can’t possibly deliver can have a negative impact. Your working days will be littered with loose ends. When you are ‘wave hopping’, and it can be soul destroying. You’re not surfing the waves
You’re leaping from the top of one wave onto another without that lovely rhythm you get, that inner satisfaction you enjoy when completing things well, where you experience that satisfying sense of conclusion. Always jumping onto the next new exciting initiative, and you lack that vital quality of follow-through.
As an effective completer-finisher, you get to naturally build pause points into your work, times where there’s clear space for reflection. This means you learn what goes well and what doesn’t. Miss out these important stages and you miss out on real insight and learning. You live on autopilot, and it’s a pretty uncomfortable place to be. Starting and not finishing creates background stress, an insidious kind of professional indigestion. It can, if you are not careful, become a habit. And like all habits, it can be tough to break.
Regarding working relationships, not finishing can also cause difficulties. It means you’ll probably give out mixed messages, never a good thing at work! You kick things off with enthusiasm and lots of activity, but as the project proceeds, you visibly go off the boil, despite the deadline. This can breed distrust and disappointment, and it can also be very stressful for the people you manage. Especially if they happen to be strong completer-finishers themselves!
There’s room for all sorts of people in a work context, of course, but if you want to scale the heights and achieve your full potential in a people management or organisational role, it’s vital to have the ability to start and finish projects in a satisfying, logical and appropriate manner. Luckily you can teach yourself a bunch of crucial completer-finisher attributes. Here are our tips on how to do exactly that.
If you’d like to harness professional coaching to help you build your professional reputation for consistent follow through and delivery, contact us.