Cultivating Dependability Behind the Scenes


This post is the second in a series providing best practices for becoming a trusted advisor.

Dependability is a highly sought-after quality in the workforce for employers and clients alike, and it is one of the most important aspects of becoming a trusted advisor. There is a perception that dependability is innate – dependable people just don’t struggle with time management, juggling multiple projects, or showing up on time. I’d argue that dependability is actually a skill that anyone can develop and refine with practice.  The following 4 strategies will set you up for success by making it easier to be on time, meet deadlines, pitch in for team members, and create high quality deliverables.

Add a Buffer

We’re usually late because we tried to do too much in too little time. Including a buffer when we schedule tasks and meetings makes it possible to be on time, every time. Determine how long a task, meeting, or commute will take and add 15-30 minutes. Treat this time as sacred – put it on your calendar, just like you would any other appointment. If you end up not needing it, use the time to catch up on email.

Set Realistic Deadlines

The only deadlines I ever struggle to meet are the ones I suspected would be problematic from the start, because they weren’t realistic. Only you have a complete working knowledge of your daily tasks, deliverables, meetings, and personal engagements. If you have the opportunity to weigh in on the deadline from the beginning, be honest about what you think is possible. While promising a quick turn-around wins you favor in the short term, you will lose credibility if you can’t fulfill your commitment.

Respond Quickly

When we’re busy, it can be tempting to avoid responding to difficult emails or voicemails, especially if a question has been asked that we can’t yet answer. A quick response, even if it’s to tell the recipient that we’ll provide more information later, demonstrates our willingness to help out, respect for others’ time, and dependability.  Consider setting aside 30 minutes two to four times a day to read and respond to email.

Tackle Tasks in Priority Order

Prioritizing work tasks each day can minimize wasted time and ensure that important deliverables with critical deadlines are addressed first. When planning your work day, ask yourself these 3 questions:

1)      What tasks require someone else’s input before they can be finished?

2)      What tasks have fast-approaching deadlines?

3)      What tasks will take the longest to complete?

Using this method to compartmentalize tasks will help you establish a priority order for completing your work and will ensure you can deliver your best work on time.

Developing these skills isn’t easy, but with a little work behind the scenes, you can achieve the level of dependability you admire in others. The added trust, respect, and acknowledgement you’ll receive as a result of your efforts will be worth the investment.

Meagan Sweigart


Meagan is a consultant who specializes in Communications Strategies and Change Management.  She supports companies undergoing corporate change projects with innovative, multi-faceted communications and media solutions. Meagan is passionate about building strong client relationships as a trusted advisor.