How Making Promises Can Boost Productivity

superheroyou How Making Promises Can Boost Productivity

In your company, how do conversations between co-workers end? Does somebody say, “Yes, I absolutely can do that” – or does it sound closer to,” Sure I think that might work”?

Such ambiguity doesn’t seem like a big deal. But according to Elizabeth Doty, a Harvard University fellow and business consultant, this is a difference that can define whether you succeed or fail. In other words, promises are great for productivity.

Business leaders don’t want to ask for promises because they don’t want to seem like they’re asking for permission. But when you get an employee or colleague to promise they’ll do something, you actually give the power back to that person. This creates a culture of accountability and responsibility – so that task is much more likely to get done.

But like any management strategy, you have to do it right! Here are a few tips you need to follow.

  • Don’t force them in. If someone is unable to commit to a task, you have to give them room to say no. In other words, they must be comfortable enough to explain what they are capable of and present alternatives. Don’t yell at them for not being up to the task. Ask what they can commit to, and see how you (or others) can help.
  • Work together. It’s easy for me to commit to something – but if I’m a cog in a machine, all those other parts have to be committed too! Especially in big companies, it’s tough to keep your promises unless everybody else is onboard. So make sure to keep the lines of communication open and work together.
  •  Focus on process. Business consultants love to throw the word “process” around, but so few people understand what it really means. Process is how people in your company complete their tasks day in and day out. In a company with clear processes, the employees have a good idea of what to expect each day and know how to handle the situations they come across. If you’re running around putting out small fires every day, chances are, you don’t have good processes. And if you don’t have good processes, your employees won’t have a good idea if they can fulfill their promises – so they won’t commit to any. So focus on improving your process.
  • Be explicit. Sure, saying “I promise” or “I commit” might seem silly in the boardroom. But that explicit language is important! First, spelling out the commitment ensures that everybody’s on the same page. If there’s any confusion, you can clear it up right then before the situation gets worse. Secondly, saying those words out loud reinforces the commitment in the person’s head. It’s tough to back out of something you’ve declared publicly in front of several people – so it improves the chances that he/she will get it done.

Intrigued by this strategy? Doty has several more tips you can use – find them at Strategy + Business.

Liked this? Check out 5 Note-Taking Tips You Need to Know!

Written by Sasha Graffagna

Photo Credit: mariadelajuana via Compfight cc

In your company, how do conversations between co-workers end? Does somebody say, “Yes, I absolutely can do that” – or does it sound closer to,” Sure I think that might work”?

Such ambiguity doesn’t seem like a big deal. But according to Elizabeth Doty, a Harvard University fellow and business consultant, this is a difference that can define whether you succeed or fail. In other words, promises are great for productivity.

Business leaders don’t want to ask for promises because they don’t want to seem like they’re asking for permission. But when you get an employee or colleague to promise they’ll do something, you actually give the power back to that person. This creates a culture of accountability and responsibility – so that task is much more likely to get done.

But like any management strategy, you have to do it right! Here are a few tips you need to follow.

  • Don’t force them in. If someone is unable to commit to a task, you have to give them room to say no. In other words, they must be comfortable enough to explain what they are capable of and present alternatives. Don’t yell at them for not being up to the task. Ask what they can commit to, and see how you (or others) can help.
  • Work together. It’s easy for me to commit to something – but if I’m a cog in a machine, all those other parts have to be committed too! Especially in big companies, it’s tough to keep your promises unless everybody else is onboard. So make sure to keep the lines of communication open and work together.
  •  Focus on process. Business consultants love to throw the word “process” around, but so few people understand what it really means. Process is how people in your company complete their tasks day in and day out. In a company with clear processes, the employees have a good idea of what to expect each day and know how to handle the situations they come across. If you’re running around putting out small fires every day, chances are, you don’t have good processes. And if you don’t have good processes, your employees won’t have a good idea if they can fulfill their promises – so they won’t commit to any. So focus on improving your process.
  • Be explicit. Sure, saying “I promise” or “I commit” might seem silly in the boardroom. But that explicit language is important! First, spelling out the commitment ensures that everybody’s on the same page. If there’s any confusion, you can clear it up right then before the situation gets worse. Secondly, saying those words out loud reinforces the commitment in the person’s head. It’s tough to back out of something you’ve declared publicly in front of several people – so it improves the chances that he/she will get it done.

Intrigued by this strategy? Doty has several more tips you can use – find them at Strategy + Business.

Liked this? Check out 5 Note-Taking Tips You Need to Know!

Written by Sasha Graffagna

Photo Credit: mariadelajuana via Compfight cc

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