do what you say you’re going to do

by Ask a Manager on March 10, 2011

It amazes me that this has to be said, but this should be your cardinal rule at work:

Do what you say you’re going to do, by when you say you’re going to do it, or update people accordingly.

Every single time. No matter how small.

Why? Because your word should mean something. Because your credibility is at stake. Those things matter.

This behavior is so uncommon that if you do it 100% consistently, you’ll develop an awesome reputation for being reliable and keeping your word, no matter how tiny the issue at hand. People notice this stuff, and they remember.

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{ 11 comments }

JC March 10, 2011 at 6:33 pm

I was just thinking about this today, and it’s an issue that frustrates me to no end! My boss does this all the time – she piles on way too much work to the point where she can’t keep up. Then she leaves people hanging past the deadline and I’m the one (as her assistant) who has to deal with all these people calling me asking for updates. Often times it’s things she could have easily delegated to me as well, especially when I ask her if she needs help with it. It’s not only embarrassing for her, but for me as well.

Anonymous March 11, 2011 at 9:13 am

I’m in the same position….and it’s made worse by the fact that I’m bored and don’t have enough work to keep me busy all day…yet my boss is overwhelmed, missing deadlines, making promises, she can’t keep and won’t delegate!

Daniel March 11, 2011 at 12:06 am

Excellent post.

I wish I managed to deliver more consistently or even track what I’ve said I’d deliver. The quest for the perfect to-do list continues and some way to add hours to the day continues I guess.

Eric March 11, 2011 at 8:51 am

This is so uncommon that its frightening.

Daniel March 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Interesting comment on delegation, I’ve been getting swamped recently and it occurred to me that if I start to delegate (I’m an engineer) then it will help me deliver more consistently.

Lisa March 11, 2011 at 8:05 pm

Thanks for the reminder! I’m one of those people bad at saying “No time” or “Sorry, unrealistic deadline,” so sometimes I overpromise. Need to think about this post when tempted to do so!

Anonymous March 11, 2011 at 9:08 pm

I totally agree with this philosophy along with treat every person the way you’d want to be treated…but I guess they kind of go hand in hand.

The part that drives me insane is I really do try to always do this for people…yet those same people are the ones who consistently leave me hanging…I know two wrongs don’t make a right (wow I have a lot of cliches in here) but it sometimes makes you want to teach these people a lesson.

I’m talking about the people that ask for your help at a specific time..you arrive on time and they are “running late” and they show up with their coffee that they had to stop and get..drives me insane.

P.G. March 12, 2011 at 5:30 pm

SOOOO true! I live this daily, and although I’m considered pretty dang low on the totem pole that is my Japanese company hierarchy (female American here), all the Veeps know I’m the go-to person. Learn it, know it, live it.

Chris Young March 13, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Great post Allison – it never ceases to amaze me how something so fundamental can have such a profound impact on one’s credibility and their career!

I have included your post in my Rainmaker ‘Fab Five’ blog picks of the week (http://www.maximizepossibility.com/employee_retention/2011/03/the-rainmaker-fab-five-blog-picks-of-the-week-1.html) to share your simple but powerful message with my readers.

Be well!

Kris March 19, 2011 at 11:43 am

I am one of the people that does this 100% of the time. No matter what it takes i.e. I have been at work well past 7pm or I’ve taken things home to do on the weekend, and it has absolutely paid off.

Amina February 13, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Yeah, this is how my bosses lost credibility with me. Being on the receiving end of flakiness really drove this point home.

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