Promises, promises

Do the people around you keep their promises? It’s a cultural strategy that determines the agility or frustration that occurs in a company.

I believe keeping your word is the most important aspect of a performance review. The reason supervisors don’t measure it is they probably don’t track it.

When I lead organizations, I track every request and promise and dates for fulfillment. When a salesperson tells me they will do x, y, and z by such and such date, I am in their office the next day to discuss results and next actions.

When my chief engineer tells me the department will complete an assignment by a certain date, in my calendar and trace file it goes, and I am ready to take him or her out to lunch for the achievement.

When things are not done as promised or renegotiated early enough for easy reassignment, I know a few things:

  • This manager may be disorganized. I am happy to help him or her get organized, but after that I am concerned. If he or she doesn’t live up to promises, what is falling through the cracks with the team? 
  • Employees have needs and requests and personal lives that depend upon scheduling. When they make requests and we don’t get back to them with an answer by a promised date, the culture starts to curdle a bit. People feel they don’t matter. Ouch.
  • As a leader of a company that isn’t organized around keeping its word, how can I sleep at night when it comes to guest needs? If my team can’t fulfill promises made to the people who give out the paychecks, what will my guests experience when they ask for something by a certain time?

Intention is nice and well meaning, but worthless. Once you get on the Promise Bandwagon and people understand they are their word and not their intention or reasons, all kinds of great things can happen in an organization. I promise.