This past week I was flying from Toronto to San Diego, a relatively straightforward flight with one stopover in San Francisco. Unfortunately, this didn’t end up being the case. Upon boarding the Air Canada flight, all the passengers were notified by the stewardess that the Captain and First Officer had not yet arrived for the flight. No big deal, I thought; I’ve got sixty minutes between the time we land and the time I have to catch my connecting flight. Within thirty minutes they both arrived, and preparation for the flight was underway – that is until there was a computer glitch, followed by additional paperwork that was necessary due to the glitch, followed by the ground crew leaving our aircraft to help others. It was an unfortunate series of events, through which I could see my ability to make my connecting flight slowly slipping away.
I remained optimistic until we were two hours past departure, at which point, I knew my luck had run out. Then the captain came on the PA one more time to advise that due to our additional idle time, we would now need to refuel.
Despite the mounting issues, I didn’t become irritated until I realized during the second or third delay that each time the captain came over the PA to update the passengers (about once every thirty minutes), he ended his update by saying, “We should have you up and on your way in about five minutes.”
His estimates were never even close. In fact, during the last two delays passengers began laughing out loud and taunting the captain, yelling, “Sure we will!”
Underestimating the time it takes to do something, particularly when making commitments to others, absolutely kills your credibility. This is particularly true if you’re a leader, yet I run across leaders all the time who make commitments to their employees that they don’t follow through with. Worse yet, they often make similar commitments to customers (internally or externally), on which they do deliver. That’s right, they deliver on their commitments when it comes to serving customers, but rarely when it comes to employees.
Does that sound right to you? Have you possibly missed a few commitments to your employees recently?
If you have I’m not here to bash you about it; we all miss on delivering some of our commitments. However, doing so with your employees consistently can kill your credibility, particularly when they know you are meeting commitments for others. Fortunately there’s a better approach.
When an employee asks you to do something, either do it immediately (if you have the time and it warrants immediate action), direct them to someone better suited to help them out (such as another employee or team member), or ask for time to reflect and follow up.
Asking for time may seem like a cop out, and to some degree it is. But if you actually do follow up and take action, you are now not tied to a commitment that you were never able to meet.
This week, try the Do It, Direct Them or Reflect approach and watch the benefits it provides.
Do it: You’ll gain credibility for taking action.
Direct them: You’ll empower the employees with new ideas on how to approach their challenges.
Reflect: You’ll have time to respond when it’s convenient for you.
Stop missing your commitments and try a more structured approach. Stuck on introducing this approach with some challenging employees? Email me. We can set up a time to discuss some specific strategies for your environment.
© Shawn Casemore 2017. All rights reserved.