As the pandemic keeps employees remotely located, furloughed, and (in the cases of essential employees) working in fear, is it possible to keep a WOW culture going? Deb Boelkes, author of The WOW Factor Workplace: How to Create a Best Place to Work Culture shows us how. No doubt about it: Great leaders drive the creation of great cultures. That's why now is the perfect time to work on your leadership abilities and commit to lifelong learning. Here are some things leaders can do right now to improve themselves while working to create a culture of WOW in these unprecedented times...
Be more visible and engaged. This makes it less likely that team members will mentally check out or become frustrated and depressed. Garry Ridge, chairman and CEO of the WD-40 Company, shared in Boelkes' book Heartfelt Leadership, "In hard times, as a leader, you need to be more visible than ever before. We've got to be there, in the moment, when people need us…Leaders need to make sure in times of war, and in times of trouble, they are visible."
Ask techno-savvy team members for help, if needed. If you aren't used to working with Zoom, Skype, or FaceTime, call on team members who are more comfortable and proficient with using such technology. Not only will it make them feel needed, it can help them become more comfortable in communicating with those above them, especially when they see you behave in an unusually humble way. This, in and of itself, can help build new bridges with more team members.
Make sure everyone understands the mission. No matter what world environment we face, in good times and in bad, the leader's role is to define and communicate the organizational strategy and the objectives to be achieved. Not understanding why things are being done, or the intent of the mission, is a big demotivator.
Remove roadblocks as quickly as possible. To create engaging environments, great managers know how important it is to make sure team members are able to perform at their personal best. This is especially important when people are forced to work from home, doing things in ways they haven't had to before, with heavier than normal burdens.
Seek to understand new issues and leverage newfound perspectives. Anticipate quickly changing demand, delivery challenges, and supply chain limitations, as well as opportunities to serve new markets. Encourage team members to share any ideas they may have to improve internal processes, operations, products, services, vendor relations, client services, and/or the customer experience. Working remotely or alone for a change might enable team members to see things from a completely different perspective. Take advantage of the new paradigm to learn and adjust.
Understand what makes employees tick and why they work there. Don't underestimate the importance of having regular performance reviews and professional development one-on-ones, especially during times like these, even if such meetings must be held online. Just because jobs are no longer as plentiful as they were just a short time ago, never assume your best team members won't jump ship. Ask them, "What keeps you at our company?" If you haven't done it in a while, ask about their career goals. Make sure they know they have your support in working toward achieving their dreams and desires. Determine how, in the current situation, they can best align their unique strengths, evolving professional objectives, and personal needs to best support the organization's new objectives.
Leverage employees' changing needs to meet the new needs of your company. During one-on-ones, ask, "What might lure you away from here?" What they tell you today might be totally different from what they might have told you when life was more predictable. There may never be a better time to create a new position or a new set of responsibilities that will allow them to do what they love and help take the organization in a new or different direction.
Proactively help employees network and nurture their potential. Offer to facilitate personal/professional development opportunities outside the organization. Make warm introductions for team members with other leaders within or outside your company. Encourage informational telephone interviews so team members can learn more about your company's internal operations, customer operations, vendor operations, or beyond. Keep team members learning.
Keep internal networks and support systems evolving. Offer team members opportunities to participate in special, newly created webinars to aid in reducing stress, teambuilding, or professional coaching, paid for by the firm, and either hosted by you, a Human Resources specialist, a university extension program, or an executive coach. Such programs might foster team brainstorming or discussion of topics such as: how to cope with working from home, how to serve customers in new ways, ideas to make this new lifestyle easier, new ways to serve our communities, how to be a better remote manager, or any other topics team members would like to discuss. Be sure to offer these online events at various times of the day/evening or even on weekends so team members can select a time that works best for them.
Institute Management by Objectives (MBOs). Initiate a performance-based management program for newly remote workers. Allow team members to decide what works best for them for reviewing their performance (i.e., daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or ad hoc). Discuss with each one what it takes to maintain a "Best Place to Work" given the new, albeit temporary, conditions. Whatever you do, don't squander this time of culture reset, urges Boelkes. Instead, vow to emerge from the pandemic a better, stronger company.
About Deb Boelkes
Deb Boelkes is the author of The WOW Factor Workplace: How to Create a Best Place to Work Culture and Heartfelt Leadership: How to Capture the Top Spot and Keep on Soaring. She is not just a role model heartfelt leader; she's the ultimate authority on creating best places to work, with 25+ years in Fortune 150 high-tech firms, leading superstar business development and professional services teams. As an entrepreneur, she has accelerated advancement for women to senior leadership. Deb has delighted and inspired over 1,000 audiences across North America.
Recent WHO (World Health Organization) announcement about COVID-19 pandemic is raising many uncertainties and questions about the way business will now be conducted around the world. In the face of this unusual situation, companies often do not know what to do and how to communicate with customers, partners, even their own employees. Kristina Skindelytė and Raminta Lilaitė, founders of digital communications agency “Blue Oceans PR,” share tips on how to manage this situation.
1. Do not ignore the problem
In the event of any unusual situation, do not avoid talking about problems. A pandemic will inevitably affect your company and employees, thus talking about security and any foreseen plans during quarantine with clients, employees and partners should be a priority. Everybody needs to know clearly what your business plans are, whether the team will now work remotely or you will temporarily be out of business, how you can be contacted and how you are willing to help the others. This will allow the company to maintain seamless communication and provide clarity in shaping future communications. “Gartner” has prepared a useful questionnaire to help you understand the level of company preparedness during the pandemic crisis.
2. Plan internal communication
When a crisis begins, employees need to understand how it will affect their work and the company itself. In times of panic, the reluctance to take on responsibility may begin, thus it is important to appoint a person or a team which will be responsible for sharing the information with employees. Staff should receive all mandatory information regarding the critical points and risks of a crisis, how to ensure a safe and responsible environment and how the work will look like from this point. Any communication with remote workers should be especially empathetic - create open communication, understand that a person is working from home and may have other family members in the same room, thus the environment may not be very professional.
3. Maintain contacts
Do not stop fostering relationships with clients, partners and investors. Use various communication channels, such as social networks, just to chat and show that you are responding to the situation. Clients need to understand that in spite of temporary troubles, the company is still in business and you are ready to help and answer any questions. The communication should take place regularly and be available at all times. It is important to stay open about the challenges ahead and how you are prepared to deal with them. Crisis can be a great time to re-communicate your company's core values.
4. Continue communication with the press, offer help and expertise
While the first instinct in a crisis is to get away from it all, long-built communication efforts should not be suddenly dropped. Do not push the press away - continue talking about your company by fine-tuning your tone, as people need empathy and sensitivity at this moment. A good way to help is by actively offering your comments and company expertise. For example, if you are a virtual educator, offer tips on what to do with children at home, and if you are a private clinic, share insights on health care, etc.
5. Share achievements
Despite the stress, understand that the crisis will not last forever, thus keep reminding your customers and partners about it. During this time, it is important to continue sharing company achievements and success stories. Inspire people and help them understand that this phase is temporary. Of course, achievements need to be communicated in a sensitive manner when many other companies are experiencing difficulties. This requires empathy and diplomacy at every step.
6. Find the right strategy for your business
Global crisis does not mean your customers are no longer interested in your business. For example, trade giant “Alibaba” claims that the number of online shoppers has increased by 2.5 times compared to February last year. Consumer habits are about to change, thus keep that in mind when choosing your further strategy. Business communication will also undoubtedly change - unique, value-creating content is going to be even more important than ever.
7. Work with the right professionals
Choose those communication professionals who have the best knowledge about your niche. In the time of crisis, avoid spending money on general news - focus on specialized publications. Start with an internal newsletter for employees and customers, and then move on to a niche message for your target audience. Think about how you can help people in crisis: “Microsoft” and “Google”, for example, have provided free access to conference tools to facilitate remote work, while some airlines have agreed to waive the fees for flight information exchange and cancellation.
8. Choose partnership
In a crisis, finding the right partners is more important than ever, especially if you are a small business. Instead of choosing competition, look for partnerships - help each other, share resources and ideas, and this may get you out of hard times even faster. One great example of open collaboration is the cryptocurrency company “Coinbase” - it has openly shared its internal communication plan with the world, including daily tips for employees and answers to everyone's concerns, from the latest news about the virus to general advice about pet care during quarantine, etc.
9. Prepare external communication plan - think of existing and potential audiences
In the global context, all businesses face the same situation - only an attitude and preparation will differ. Now is a great time to build a communication plan that will help to address different audiences. If your business is not localized, this is a great opportunity to look for partners in wider and unexplored markets. It is worth considering communication abroad as well - perhaps your business solutions could address some specific consequences of a pandemic. For example, fintech companies can help create new solutions for remote billing, translation agencies could employ more freelancers who now can only work from home, and so on.
10. Contribute to community
There probably are people around you who need help - take a chance to find ways to contribute safely. Perhaps you can provide food aid to those who have returned from abroad and are in compulsory two-week self-isolation, or assist elderly people struggling to get the essentials - there are many safe opportunities to contribute to the community. Do good deeds and communicate about them, and it will encourage others to join in as much as they can.
“Blue Oceans PR” is a boutique digital PR agency with a strong focus on creating quality content and stand-out strategies that have a lasting impact. Being truthful to the original Blue Oceans Strategy it always looks to find unique brand communication angles while securing relevant publicity for each client. The agency specializes in B2B, Tech, Fintech, SME and complex subject matter public relations, executes national and regional brand communication and offers content planning and creation services employing most relevant digital solutions. (All images from Unsplash)
Almost everybody bemoans the difficulties in trying to maintain a healthy balance between family and work. But for entrepreneurs, the inability to find that balance is not just unhealthy, it can result in the failure of both the business and the loss of the family. Most entrepreneurs work at least 50 hours a week, and some people like Elon Musk say that working 100 hours a week is doable and will improve the chances for business success. But what about having a life beyond the business?
“Entrepreneurs really do have to walk a tightrope between their families and their businesses,” says Peter J. Strauss (www.peterjstrauss.com), an attorney, entrepreneur and author of the upcoming book The Accidental Life. “Failure in one of those two aspects usually leads to failure in the other.” Making matters worse is that when entrepreneurs first launch the business, many are using their homes as an office. This creates family issues when there are no physical barriers between job and family, Strauss says. He offers tips for entrepreneurs who want to have success in both their business and their home lives.
About Peter J. Strauss
Peter J. Strauss (www.peterjstrauss.com) is an attorney, entrepreneur and author of several books, including the soon-to-be-released The Accidental Life. He is the founder and managing member of The Strauss Law Firm, LLC, on Hilton Head Island, S.C, and also the founder and CEO of Hamilton Captive Management, LLC. He is a graduate of the New England School of Law and of Harvard Business School’s Owner/President Management program. Strauss also holds an LL.M. in estate planning from the University of Miami and speaks regularly at public seminars.
Some popular products seem to sell themselves, but the reality is the success began with a process. The same is true in the business of professional sports, a $60 billion-a-year industry where some franchises grow into monster brands. Sales managers in many industries sometimes use sports themes in their coaching -– competitiveness, dedication, strategy execution, etc. And as someone who has trained the sales teams of major sports brands, Lance Tyson sees what often separates the winners from the losers.
“The problem with selling today is there’s no home-field advantage,” says Tyson (www.tysongroup.com), President and CEO of Tyson Group, a sales training, coaching and consulting company and author of Selling is an Away Game: Close Business and Compete in a Complex World. “The selling game takes place in the buyer’s mind. As the salesperson, you have to determine how much the potential buyer knows or doesn’t know. And even with all the technology, it’s never been more competitive; there are more salespeople interacting directly with customers than ever before.”
Tyson offers four concepts to consider when coaching your sales team on today’s more complex playing field:
“There’s plenty of room for a salesperson’s creativity and a customer’s need for tailored solutions,” Tyson says. “At the same time, you can use that process repeatedly to provide solutions and compete in a complex world.”
About Lance Tyson
Lance Tyson (www.tysongroup.com) is President and CEO of Tyson Group, a sales training, coaching and consulting company listed among SellingPower’s Top 20 sales training companies of 2018. He is the author of Selling is an Away Game: Close Business and Compete in a Complex World. Among Tyson Group’s clients are many professional sports teams such as the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys. Tyson was a franchise owner of Dale Carnegie operations in the Midwest and drove them to 230 percent growth before starting his own company. He conducts over 100 workshops annually in areas such as performance management, leadership, sales, sales management, customer service, negotiations and team building.
A key part of any CEO’s or entrepreneur’s role is to make the “right” decisions, and then ensure they are enacted to advance the business. Yet their decisions and actions often miss the mark, frustrating the achievement of their aspirations. It’s the voice in their head and other invisible factors at work.
“All CEOs and entrepreneurs have habits, beliefs and motivators – such as fear – that affect what they do, often unconsciously,” says Mark E. Green, a speaker, coach to CEOs and author of Activators: A CEO’s Guide to Clearer Thinking and Getting Things Done (www.Activators.biz).
Green says these “hidden growth killers” interfere with a business leader’s ability to make optimal decisions and then see them through via day-to-day choices and actions. “This is why leading your business feels challenging, frustrating and even maddening at times despite the fact that you generally know what to do and how to do it,” Green says. “Your motivators, habits and beliefs influence how you think and act.”
Any CEO or entrepreneur who ever put off having a critical conversation or justified retaining a poor-performing employee has experienced their own “hidden growth killers” in action. And it’s not just those at the top who are susceptible. “Motivators, habits and beliefs operate similarly in the minds of your leadership team and every other person you employ,” Green says. “The cumulative cost is staggering.”
Fortunately, he says, there are research-backed techniques to counteract the “hidden growth killers” and more consistently align our decisions, choices and actions with our ultimate aspirations. Just a few of those are:
Green cautions that no matter how deliberate you are in your efforts to improve, even the most seasoned CEOs make mistakes and experience setbacks. “Remain purposeful and take it in stride,” he says. “In the marathon you’re running to scale your business, your willingness to stretch and grow, to do the work and to stick with it are what really matter.”
About Mark E. Green
Mark Green, author of Activators: A CEO’s Guide to Clearer Thinking and Getting Things Done (www.Activators.biz), is a speaker, strategic advisor and coach to CEOs and executive teams worldwide. He has addressed, coached and advised thousands of business leaders, helping them unlock more of their potential and teaching them how to do the same for their teams. He is a Core Advisor to Gravitas Impact Premium Coaches
Major brands such as Facebook, Volkswagen, Starbucks, and most recently Papa John’s have endured controversies that called into question their ethical practices. Those companies are only the latest to be exposed for problems that consumers and those knowledgeable about corporate culture often link with a lack of ethical standards at the highest executive level. This can cause an erosion in the public’s trust, which in turn eats away at a company’s bottom line. Research by Mintel revealed 56 percent of U.S. consumers stop buying from companies they believe are unethical, and it also showed that more than 60 percent of consumers think ethical issues are becoming more important.
There’s an opportunity here, says an international ethics expert, for companies to get ahead of the curve by incorporating better ethics before damage control forces it upon them. “Controversies and scandals in corporations have the power to shift them from moral autopilot to an energized manual control, where they are acutely aware of their actions and their impact,” says Dr. Christopher Gilbert, author of There’s No Right Way To Do the Wrong Thing and senior consultant/speaker at NobleEdge Consulting (www.nobleedgeconsulting.com). “But it doesn’t and shouldn’t require misfortune to switch things up.
“As powerful public figures and corporate executives are switched to the truths of equality and justice, the costs of their unethical decision-making become crystal clear to everyone. The dominoes are still falling daily. But never doubt that a rising cry for equity and opportunity can change hearts and grow into a global mind shift.” Gilbert offers five steps for business leaders to help their companies avoid ethical problems and elevate ethical development.
“What you think about ethics becomes your ethics,” Gilbert says. “If you believe ethics are grey, you will find yourself in greyer and greyer situations where the choices get blurrier. Where you see, know and act with the assurance that ethics are there to tell us right from wrong, you will be put into more and more situations where the answer is obvious – despite the complexity of the circumstances.”
About Christopher Gilbert, Ph.D.
Dr. Christopher Gilbert, the author of There’s No Right Way To Do the Wrong Thing, is an international ethics consultant and senior consultant/speaker at NobleEdge Consulting (www.nobleedgeconsulting.com). Having spent much of his career focused on the study of human moral development, Dr. Gilbert has over 30 years of experience in organizational development as a strategic facilitator and leadership and operations consultant. He has served an international clientele, including Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies in the U.S., Canada, Asia and Africa. Dr. Gilbert completed work for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on a sustainable food-security program across four nations of sub-Saharan Africa, and he has been a professor of business ethics who taught at universities on four continents. He earned his doctorate in Organization, Management and Leadership Ethics at Capella University.
Every day, businesses across the country hum along efficiently, their operations supported by enormous reams of data that most employees – and bosses – take for granted. Need to check inventory? Want to make sure a customer paid a bill? That information and much more is stored somewhere in a computer, always at the ready in time of need.
Except when it’s not.
Sometimes things go awry – a hacker, a system crash – that cause a business to lose critical data, and that can be devastating to the bottom line. Worst-case scenario: The business goes out of business.
“If you’re a business owner and you’ve not thought of data in relation to your financial well-being, don’t feel bad; you’re not alone,” says Penny Garbus, co-founder of Soaring Eagle Consulting Inc. (www.SoaringEagle.guru) and co-author of Mining New Gold – Managing your Business Data.
“Sometimes people are so busy running their businesses that they don’t have time to worry about the bits and bytes of their data and how relevant it is to longevity of their business.” But they should, she says. Without data protection processes and procedures in place, the business could face serious consequences. Garbus says data is like gold: It can be traded, it’s the base for creation of products, and if you lose it, you lose money.
Here are just three ways in which a failure to secure data can prove costly to a business:
“Any business that hasn’t already done so should begin a self-analysis to design data protection processes and procedures,” Garbus says. “You need to define your needs and then talk with your IT staff to ensure that the data recovery and protection strategies match those needs. “But remember that this is not an insurmountable problem. If you take the right steps you can save yourself a lot of costs and headaches down the road.”
About Penny Garbus
Penny Garbus, co-founder of Soaring Eagle Consulting Inc. (www.SoaringEagle.guru), is co-author of Mining New Gold – Managing Your Business Data. She has been working in the data-management field since leaving college when she worked as a data entry clerk for Pitney Bowes Credit. She later ran the training and marketing department of Northern Lights Software.
Attended a lunch and learn event today hosted by the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce and LAX Coworking featuring Jory Rosen of J. Rosen Group. The topic was best business tips for 2016 and it was a good session to hear someone with so much experience speak so frankly about what works/not in the business world these days. Here's a quick rundown of the notes I took, not necessarily verbatim but what I took away - I've actually typed them out to print and stick up by my work desk at home - wise words to remember.
1. Always exude confidence, everywhere, all the time.
2. Love what you do.
3. Do it the best way (not the fastest or the cheapest).
4. Be remarkable - be flamboyant if you need to, to stand out, be visible, get attention.
5. Review what you are selling, what people want, and if what you are selling is still relevant.
6. Make it easy for people to do business with you, buy from you, spend money with you.
7. Do give away advice or entry to events etc. to get clients in.
8. Ask for the sale, don't dilly dally.
9. Ask for referrals.
10. Always send thank yous.
11. Ask for testimonials.
12. Forget the office - go to your client to see them in their own environment.
13. Always keep learning.
14. Find a mentor.
15. Learn from your mistakes and bounce back, don't fall down.
The big one for me was to go to clients - I work freelance most times and my clients are almost always solo entrepreneurs like me working from home or coffee shops so going to where they work is pretty much where I work out of. In other cases, they are in a whole other city or country even so going to where they are is not so much an option. And I did think, for the longest time, that meeting in a mutual place, neutral to all parties involved, is the best arrangement, so nobody has home base advantage, but I can see the intent in that point and hope I can use it to my advantage some time. Hope these are useful to you as well. Good luck!
A quick search online will tell you Jonathan Fields heads the Good Life Project and is also the author of Uncertainty and Career Renegade. I was introduced to his work through a reading project where I remember his name mentioned. To this day, his Good Life Project living creed and this quote - “Our greatest opportunity for impact lies not just in connecting people to us and our ideas, but in creating a safe place where people can connect with and support each other in the quest to take the sustained action that leads to profound change.”- are printed and pinned to my work-board so I read it every time I look up from my laptop. I now have both his books as well on my reading table.
Jonathan spoke recently at the World Domination Summit held in Portland OR on RevolutionU: How to Tap Revolution-Dynamics to Fuel Rapid Business Growth, Build an Army of Evangelists and Change the Damn World but I could not attend, kickass as that session does sound. I did, however, listen to one of his podcasts and while I am in no way commencing on a revolution at this time, I felt that much of what he spoke resonated with me as a freelancer and entrepreneur.
As a foundation, Fields notes it is important to understand whom you serve and what pain point it is that you are addressing. Every business owner will agree that right there is the make or break factor for any business. As the leading force of your efforts, especially if you are looking to get a revolution going, it is important to not just have humility and vulnerability but also the desire to serve and be truthful in your actions. I believe these are great characteristics to have as an entrepreneur as well. When people see that you are one of them, they are willing to take your lead. Having some way to bring these people together, whether that is through a book or an event, is integral - great takeaways for those wanting to become business leaders in their communities.
Secondly, a clear idea of your messaging is vital. Again, many business owners fail at this and quite a few of us are guilty of giving clients vague ideas of exactly what we do. Fields stresses on having an understanding of what you are moving away from and what you are moving toward if a revolution is what you have in mind – unifying beliefs are what bring people closer together. He also talks about building your story and crafting your manifesto, which I think, depending on what stage your business is, could apply just as well to your ethics as an entrepreneur as it would to leading a revolution.
Thirdly, the execution of that theory into action by defining the path of what you will do and how. In a business sense, I would essentially look at this as a business plan. Fields offers two ways of moving forward – a transactional or a sustained path – to build your tribe, your community. To deepen that tribe mentality, he talks about shared symbology and language, which in business terms, really boils down to your logo and your tagline or buzzwords that attract clients to you. Assembling torchbearers and key resources is next, to put their faith in your products and services and then recommend that to others.
Lastly, there is the big launch, of course. Accompanied by social media in all its glory these days. It is important to have mechanisms and milestones, and be transparent about your goals, as it is with any business. Other considerations such as thought triggers and emotional attachments, observable practical value of what is on offer and the power of storytelling that ties it all together is just as important to a business as it is to any revolution.
Fields provides useful ways to understand narrowing your field of ideas to clamp down on whom you want to serve. He also throws light on the starting point of your efforts, small group focus, the why of what you do and the role that connections and solutions play in the larger picture – all things useful to running a thriving business as it is to sustaining a revolution. And arriving at that tipping point when your revolution has its own momentum. To a business owner though, and a solopreneur at that, what would that tipping point be? The day you don’t have to market your services any more? The month you make 2x more than you did the same time last year? The minute people call you for your work? The first time you publish on LinkedIn?
I believe I might have accomplished a few tipping points in the few years I have been a full-time freelancer, and that I have a few more such tipping points to look forward to in the future, but at what point is a business considered to be in that momentum as Fields speaks of with revolutions. What do you consider your tipping point?
There is a reason you have deadlines. If there wasn't one, you'd never be given a deadline or have to meet it. But that ain't how the world works. We'd be forever in pursuit. And that's okay, but for longer lifetime goals. Not for writing assignments. You and I would never make a penny.
I try at all times to beat deadlines. Especially for stories or projects assigned to me. How? By working on the story right away. Of course, if you work in a newsroom or are on staff at a larger agency that goes without saying but if you work, like me, on many one-off projects or stories that have a longer lead time, for features magazines or maybe websites, then don't make the mistake, and I am talking from experience here, of keeping best things for last, or dashing for the red ribbon in the last second, or whatever fancy term you want to give for being plain simple careless and lethargic with your work.
I mark my deadline at least 24 hours ahead on my calendar, and sometimes, depending on my experience working with a magazine or a certain 'type' of editor, I mark my deadline even a week in advance just to keep room for any last minute changes or edits or alterations, or, God forbid, additions, to my piece. When I am assigned work, I get on it right away. I also used to do the infamous fleeting glance at my mail and saying I was on it, then getting to 'it' days before deadline and finding out the attached files were wrong, or inaccessible, or not even attached. Guess how professional that makes me look. Yeah, pat on the back...NOT!
Never came across an editor that reprimanded me for sending in my work earlier so I can't be doing it wrong. In fact, sometimes that has actually resulted in not just repeat work from the same client, but also last-minute stories that paid more (since they are rush jobs now because some other member of the team decided to drop the ball on it) and even referrals. So now I am not just making money, but making more money - from the same client and another. Who can complain?
Try it the next time. Work backward from a deadline, give yourself the breathing space to beat it, allow for the time you need to turn around the piece, the time you will need for your research, speaking to sources, putting together your primary points, supporting facts, sourcing images, etc. and that will give you a clear idea of how far ahead you should begin. Which is now.
Soon as you are assigned a project or story, go ahead and add it to your running work list, which I hope you have one of, because otherwise, I am not sure how you keep track of your ongoing jobs. Make sure you are looking at this work list very day when you begin and every evening when you call quits so you are constantly aware of the deadline coming through. If you are halfway through your roadmap and have not heard from resources, don't have the required quotes or the images sourced, then escalate to your editor or superior, senior editor, whoever will help, because they will appreciate an earlier red flag than a later one. Of course, this is your last resort after all other efforts on your part have failed. Sure, you don't want to look incompetent by having to ask your editor to step in, but beyond a point, it isn't about you any more. There is an issue that has to go live and your story needs to be in it, and your bills paid, so do what you have to, in order to get that story together.
Try to set up consistent reminders and alerts on your calendar so you stay on track. You can also have your accountability partner, close friend or trusted professional acquaintance check in on you on set dates to ensure you are progressing as you should. If a change of scenario give you a sense of urgency then go ahead and work from a different location if that means your deadline will be met. If it turns out highly likely that you will not meet your deadline, the first inkling you have of it, give your editor a heads-up. They are nice people for the most part and want to help you if they can or must. They also have an issue to produce so seek help when you need it. Most are happy to know, some will offer an extension, some will offer assistance or advice or try connecting you to other sources but be fair to them and let them know well in advance.
Worst case scenario, submit your work on deadline day and make sure to clarify up front what time on deadline day your work should be in. Again, from experience, I know that while you are thinking noon your editor is expecting your piece in her mail when she has her morning coffee, when you are thinking end of day your editor is expecting submission at noon. If you don't receive an assignment letter spelling it out, then the onus is on you to clear out any gaps that could lead to misunderstandings later.
It is absolutely unprofessional and unacceptable to not meet a deadline, earlier or on time, and not communicate with your editor. It gives the rest of us a bad name so please, don't. Let them know when you will have your project done, and stick to that delayed deadline, even if you decide to gift it to yourself. If nothing else, you would have saved face, and maybe, the editor might try working with you again. Or you might just get paid, or not (uh-oh), and never work with them again, but recognize that this is your doing. So before that catastrophe hits you, go ahead and just submit on deadline and that way we will all be happy.