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May 12, 2018

NBlog May 12 - plummeting toward the deadline


With less than a fortnight now remaining, are you all set for the GDPR deadline with everything on your privacy projects either completed or well in hand?

If not, now is your last chance to refocus on priorities and squeeze the last ounce of effort from all involved.

The usual approach for many managers and team leaders facing just such a situation is to crack the whip. Maybe you have already done that. Maybe you are being thrashed, and feel obliged to do the same.

Hey, listen. Stop a moment and think. That's not the only way.

Assuming things have been run reasonably effectively to this point, everyone is well aware of the impending deadline. The increasing tension will be plain to all. People will have been slaving away, playing their part and (in most cases) doing their level best to hit the goal ... so piling on the pressure now may be counterproductive. When people are close to their breaking points, there's a chance they'll snap rather than bend, especially if they've learnt that bending get them nothing but sore backs and yet more grief. The team and team leader need to trust each other and that's achieved by experience, not by demand.

What else would help move things along in the right direction? There are almost always other options, other avenues to try besides whip-cracking. Has it occurred to you to ask the team? Seriously, find out what are their main pain points, and do something positive about them, now, before it's too late. 

A significant part of management's role is to facilitate things, enabling the workers to work and give of their best. This includes reducing or removing barriers, tackling issues and, well, teamworking. OK so the deadline is fixed. What about everything else? Look harder for slack in the system, opportunities to cut corners safely and sprint for the finish. Ask for creative suggestions and explore the options as a team. It's not just about 'sharing the solution': given some slack, people will often surprise us with novel responses.

By the way, once the line is crossed and the crowd cheers, what's in store for your little athletes? Maybe not a medal, but will there anything at all to thank them for their supreme efforts, and celebrate a job well done? 

Aside from you, who is most anxious right now? Who has the biggest stake in the success (or failure!) of this effort? What are their main concerns? And can you persuade them to help out, if only to turn up at or before the medal ceremony in order to congratulate the team on a job well done?

Thinking still further forward, what is the current situation teach us? Deadlines are a fact of life, hence we have plenty of chances to try different approaches and learn what works best. Aside from that, right now a substantial number of organizations and teams around the globe are plummeting towards May 25th. What can we learn from others' experiences?

Speaking personally, I'll certainly be reading all I can about how organizations, teams and individuals have faced up to the GDPR challenge, both out of my general interest in management and perhaps to pick up new motivational techniques worth including in my toolbox or, for that matter, the ones to avoid like the plague. 

This motivational stuff is highly relevant to making security awareness and training more or less effective - obvious, if you think about it, which hopefully now you are.