I see this time and time again. Well intentioned leaders make promises to their people and then they fail to deliver on those promises. The truth is, you may be able to get by dropping the ball once or twice, but any more than that and your credibility starts to take a hit. And when the promises revolve around something very personal to the employee such as their increase, a promotional opportunity or paperwork that relates to their paycheck or benefits , the damage can be emotionally devastating.
When you make a promise you are making a commitment to do what you say. It doesn’t matter to the employee whether it takes you one step or twenty to fulfill that promise, they only care that you follow through. They count on you doing what you say you will do.
I remember one manager I worked with who had a reputation for dropping the ball after making promises to his employees. They even gave him a nickname (one that I won’t share) because it was generally accepted by the staff that he would not follow through on his promises. He was a great guy, well liked, and had good intentions. He just wasn’t disciplined enough to follow through. He was guilty of over-promising and under-delivering. Eventually his people found ways to get what they needed by going around him. If he wasn’t so well liked, they would have been lined up and his manager’s door to complain. Even though they dealt with it using humor, it was still incredibly frustrating to them and they wished he would change.
My suggestion to all managers is that you become a master at the opposite, under-promising and over-delivering. Reserve your promises for those times when you absolutely know you will be able to deliver. If you are unsure, don’t promise. It’s really as simple as that. Be very clear that you will try, but that you can’t promise. By limiting your commitments to those things you know you can do, you will be perceived as dependable; when you promise something it happens, no matter what. And if you come through on something that people thought you weren’t going to be able to do, you are a hero. When you set realistic expectations, everybody wins.
I would love to hear from you. My question to you is:
Do the mangers you work with over-promise and under-deliver, or do they under-promise and over-deliver?
Your comments are appreciated and please share this post if you found it helpful to you.