Just Reschedule

I once had a gentleman that worked for me and we were working on improving his performance. This means that, amongst other measures, we had a weekly call on Mondays to discuss the tasks that he would be required to complete for the week. Given the fact that I was full time on project, responsible for working with my team to generate further client business, the lead of one of our largest clients, and had 17 people reporting to me, there were times where I had to cancel the weekly meeting on short notice because some sort of crisis arose. 

I'm certain every professional has run into the situation where their boss cancelled a 1:1 or missed a specific meeting because something somewhere went wrong that required their immediate attention. This is not meant to be an excuse, it is just reality. HR and I sat in multiple meetings where the employee expressed his frustrations regarding the specific instances where I cancelled a 1:1, thus prioritizing other topics over him. He believed that I either needed to make the scheduled time for him or be assigned a new manager. As an employee myself I can tell you this has happened to me an innumerable amount of times, and I don't recall ever requesting a new manager. I quickly realized, I can either get frustrated or I can do something about it. Before I get into that, I'll tell you how it went with HR.

The HR representative listened to the employee speak his peace and responded to him (I'll paraphrase - she said it in a much more eloquent way), "If my team reacted this way every single time I missed or canceled a meeting then I would have a very unhappy team. Here is what they have learned: If they need to speak with me and I am unable to attend a meeting, they send me a note telling me they need X minutes of my time to review something time sensitive. And then I make whatever time I can for them. If it isn't critical then they reschedule the meeting for the later in the week. It's called Managing Up. Not only will it improve your relationship with Brittany, but it will ease your life as you grow in the professional world." Sometimes meetings get cancelled, sometimes they get postponed, sometimes a crisis happens and they get forgotten and we, as professionals need to learn how to deal with it.

Just reschedule - it sounds so simple, but when we feel like we aren't being valued we take it personally. I find it so important to remember just how busy everyone around me is. If I have something urgent to discuss/review, then I need to speak up and express my needs so that it is clear to the recipient. If I got frustrated and took it personally every time someone canceled a meeting, I would probably have to make a complete career change. I speak so often about finding our voices and this is one scenario where it is important to express our needs so that we don't let unnecessary tension build up.

The idea here is to understand the full relationship of what is going on in the organization and how you can play a valuable part. Your colleagues may not view your immediate needs with the same urgency, because everyone has a separate set of priorities. Especially when it comes to your boss, if you are able to communicate your needs, respect their ever changing schedule and time constraints, as well as take the initiative to reschedule or complete a certain task (not always waiting for him/her to act), then you will drastically improve the relationship with your boss. Why? You are alleviating their workload, even if you are just moving a meeting. And, for a Manager, that is gold.

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