Fix a broken promise

Nobody’s pefect. We all make promises we don’t keep.

We all have more good intentions than the energy to execute them, especially in our business life. Just because it happens, though, doesn’t mean we should let it continue.

One small broken promise can undermine your credibility with your troops, customers and friends. One way of reacting to this would be to stop promising anything. This, however, is a defensive strategy that will paint you as either noncomittal, wishy washy or unhelpful.

Here’s a much better strategy: Manage your promise keeping ratio. To do that, you need to record your promises as well as their due date and then later review your track record. I challenge you to take ten minutes today to come up with a list of the promises you made last week at work, including promise dates. Next, take a look at how you are doing against that list. Miss a promise date last week? Immediately make a priority to keep it and send a note apologizing for missing the promise date. Have a promise date coming up today or tomorrow? Meet it on time or early. This is a habit. The more you do this, the more you’ll improve your promise keeping ratio. Get this ratio right and you’ll have credibility on your side.

PS — A nice side benefit of this practice is that you’ll stop promising so much in the future just to make people happy. It’s exhausting to keep the smart and dumb promises we make!