6 ways to prevent promise breakdown
When implementing Promise Based Management into the culture of any organisation, leaders need to have tactics in place to ensure promises are delivered.
5 MINUTE READ
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August 29, 2018

When implementing Promise Based Management into the culture of any organisation, leaders need to have tactics in place to ensure promises are delivered. Once your work team learns how to make good promises and understands the life cycle of a promise, fortify them with best practices that make the commitments long-lasting and powerful.

Why Are Promises so Powerful in the Workplace?

Companies that rely on holding one another accountable with promises foster robust employee engagement and a sense of community around working towards goals together. Organsations frequently find that morale and motivation improve, causing performance to climb.

Since promises yield such beneficial results, it’s imperative to make sure they can weather conflicting priorities, new business developments and the stress of juggling many commitments at once. Read on to learn about six ways to keep promises from breaking down, so your teams can work together smoothly and reach goals faster.

Curb Promise Breakdown With Social Discipline

The secret ingredient of keeping promises intact is leveraging the power of Social Discipline. Social Discipline is an influential psychological theory backed by research that marries meeting expectations, social persuasion and accountability to individual responsibilities to foster promise delivery.

The key characteristic of Social Discipline revolves around making public promises to deliver on one's commitments in a transparent environment.

Businesses that use Social Discipline typically reap the benefits of:

  • Greater employee productivity and efficiency
  • Improved employee performance and motivation
  • Strengthened employee engagement and morale
  • Increased collaboration across teams and departments
  • Improved organisational agility due to swift communication

Prevent the Collapse of Promises

In the Harvard Business Review article “Promise Based Management: The Essence of Execution”, authors Donald Hull and Richard Spinosa note that promises fail for a variety of common reasons:

  • Working in organisational silos that impede collaboration
  • Disengaged, unmotivated employees
  • A lack of clear accountability
  • Low trust levels between managers and employees
  • Resistance to change

Change the scenario and set up your teams for success by weaving in these strategies for strengthening promises.

1. Coach Team Members on How to Create and Fulfill Successful Promises

Don’t expect every member of the organisation to adopt Promise Based Management overnight. You have to build excitement around a new process and educate employees about the benefits while showing them the ropes.

Appoint team leaders to teach each department about the five qualities of a good promise and the life cycle of a promise. Practice creating promises in the work environment until it becomes natural.

2. Publicly Track and Measure the Progress of Promises

Everyone in the organisation should be able to see one another’s promises, regardless of rank or department, for Social Discipline to be most effective. Create a transparent space that encourages accountability towards goals and tasks.

When everyone can see the progress towards each other’s goals and knows theirs are visible too, there’s no reasonable excuse for failing to fulfill promises.

3. Limit the Number of Commitments for Each Employee

Most people have good intentions at work, and some employees think they can do it all. However, too many promises can be overwhelming and result in decreased focus, lowered motivation, burnout and stagnant performance.

Make sure each team member has an appropriate amount of promises and monitor their ability to keep them. Create a culture and work environment where team members can reach out if they need help.

4. Intentionally Connect Requests and Promises to the Overall Mission

We know that promises should be mission-based so they have meaning and contribute to the core values of the organisation. Increase employee engagement and the meaning of each goal by thoughtfully linking goals to the overall mission.

Every request given to a promise-maker should state why achieving the goal is aligned with the mission. Requests without meaning rarely produce impact desired. When team members are personally invested in the promise, they deliver the best results.

5. Confirm Employees Understand the Impact of Promise Delivery

Make sure each team member fully realises the importance and impact of successful promise delivery. Promise Based Management can’t work if only a few people are invested. Make your trainings interactive and provide relevant examples. When an employee successfully delivers on every promise on time, reward them in a public way and explain what they did right.

When a team member fails to deliver on their promises, use it as a teachable moment. With any new process, it will take some people longer to adapt than others. Assign trainers or mentors to those that are struggling to foster robust adoption of the process and adherence to commitments.

6. Celebrate Promise Fulfilment and Address Poor Performers

Employees are motivated by social rewards and public praise. When either an individual or team hits a big target or fulfills a hefty promise, make sure everyone knows. Send out an organisation-wide email to thank them for their efforts or give rewards in the form of a bonus, raise or promotion.

If employees continually fail to deliver, leaders must express dissatisfaction with performance publicly. It’s not a fun thing to do, and it must be done tastefully with respect. Be sure to ‘seek to understand’ first. Ask the team member why they aren’t delivering on their promises and make adjustments. If it continues, consider a performance improvement plan or termination.

Prevent Promise Breakdown With the Right Tools

Let’s say you’ve trained your team on the benefits of Social Discipline and launched a Promise-Based Management approach in your organisation. You’ve educated your employees on the elements of making a good promise and the life cycle of commitments, and departments have promises in place.

What’s the best way to track and communicate about commitments? Many companies find task management and chat software to be appropriate tools, but which one is right for your business?

Consider Samewave, a social performance management software that gives teams a way to create, collaborate on, track and measure goals and targets in one place. Simple chat streams, document storage and detailed reports in real-time make mitigating promise breakdown painless.

Best of all, Samewave is free, so sign up today and begin crafting promises that stick.

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