“The cheque is in the mail”. “It will be ready first thing tomorrow.” “I’ll call you right back.”

How many times have you been told one of these beauties? Have you ever caught yourself saying something similar to your customers or workmates?

Forever the optimist, over the years I have often been caught out by underestimating the time a project would take. Unintentionally I would be overpromising and underdelivering by either running late or reducing the scope to deliver on time.

It took a long hard look at myself to acknowledge what I was doing and then investment in some simple systems to fix it.

Trust is the Core

The core of your relationship with both customers and your team needs to be TRUST. Customers want to trust that you can deliver the product or service they need, and if you deliver on that trust they will keep coming back for more.

Conversely if you betray that trust by not delivering, they not only won’t want to trust you again, but they are also likely to complain to someone about you.

Your team also want to trust that you will deliver to them what they need, with the same quality and timeliness you would for a customer. Your team in fact should be considered as internal customers.

Understand the problem then find a system

If delivering on time is a problem for you, work out if it is a scheduling issue or a scope issue. Do you understand how big the request is? Or are you forgetting how much other work you have on.

Find systems that helps you scope out your projects and plan your workload. Schedule routine activities and consciously leave space for the ad hoc that requires your attention. The more organised you are, the more honest you can be with yourself.

Santosh Kalwar tells us “Trust starts with truth and ends with truth.”

Next time you find yourself about to promise the world, decide if you really can. If they want it by tomorrow but you know it’s not possible for 2 days, be honest. Set the expectation at the beginning so there is no disappointment or resentment when you don’t deliver.

You will find that everyone prefers the truth to being disappointed.