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Don’t Promise What You Can’t Deliver

Don’t Promise What You Can’t Deliver


    Last week, I took a sales class for female business owners.  The first thing the instructor did was ask if anyone had been the victim of a bad sales experience.  Every person in the room raised her hand.

    When she probed for details, we learned that the negative situations had one thing in common.  It seemed that whenever a class member had a bad sales experience, it involved the seller promising something he wouldn’t or couldn’t deliver.

    The example I shared with the class was a current one.  I bought a summer membership at our community pool precisely because it advertised a lovely baby pool to which I could escape with my active one and four year-olds. However, every time I’ve used the pool this summer, the baby area has been closed.  Too much chlorine, claimed one manager.  Debris from the storm, cited another.

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    I’m sure the pool director was very apologetic that his customers had been inconvenienced, and that’s nice, but the point is that I did not get what I paid for.  When the baby pool was closed, I had to swim with my kids in the adult pool, which did not afford me the control I wanted and as such, was quite stressful.  I would have rather stayed home.

    The pool has lost a customer.  I will not be buying a pass next summer.

    In work and in life, it is really important not to promise something you can’t deliver, because at best, it will mar your relationships.  At worse, you could lose your job.  Here are some things to think through in advance to avoid this scenario.

    Consider Whether You Have the Authority To Make the Promise

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    Before you assure a co-worker or customer that you can get something done, make sure that your boss or someone higher-up isn’t going to step in and force you to abandon your plan.

    Consider If It Depends On Fate

    You don’t want your reputation to depend on if the weather holds up or traffic is light.  You are not God, so don’t lead people to believe that you control the universe.

    Consider If You Have Been Set Up To Fail

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    Pay attention to rules or policies you are asked to enforce or deals you are asked to make.  Do not allow yourself to be put into a situation in which you have to sell an item worth 99 cents for 99 dollars.  You will let the customer down every time.

    Consider a History of Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

    In the interest of pleasing others, do you consistently overextend yourself and agree to more than you are capable of doing or deadlines you can’t possibly make?   Recognize that leaving people in a lurch is much worse than declining to help in the first place.

    Consider If You Could Use An Extra Push

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    The most critical step in solving any problem is to admit that there is a problem.  Maybe you are just one of those people who mean well but needs to be constantly reminded of commitments.  If this is the case, consider a real or virtual assistant or a more detailed e-calendar that ensures timely follow up on promised items.

    (Photo credit: Guarantee via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on March 29, 2021

    5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

    5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

    When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

    What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

    The Dream Type Of Manager

    My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

    I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

    My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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    “Okay…”

    That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

    I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

    The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

    The Bully

    My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

    However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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    The Invisible Boss

    This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

    It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

    The Micro Manager

    The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

    Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

    The Over Promoted Boss

    The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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    You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

    The Credit Stealer

    The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

    Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

    3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

    Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

    1. Keep evidence

    Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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    Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

    Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

    2. Hold regular meetings

    Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

    3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

    Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

    However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

    Good luck!

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