We’re working on a promise!
XIKAR recently engaged in some very effective management training, which included the elements of a request and a commitment (promise). According to the Coach’s wisdom, our whole social fabric revolves around communication. Organizations, or networks of communications made up of requests and promises, will perform best when they effectively achieve a high standard in each.
A good request includes a committed speaker, who verbally or in writing states a request that contains a timeframe (delivery date), the future actions, and the expected conditions of satisfaction. Appropriate mood and context assist in getting to yes – (the right request at the wrong time is the wrong request).
The request becomes a promise or a commitment only once the listener declares, “Yes” (I will do it by then). If that promise is broken, the relationship diminishes. And not dealing with broken commitments almost always leads to resentment and a drop-off in effectiveness in organizational accomplishment. Yet we cannot keep 100% of the promises we keep. Thus, managing commitments becomes key in a world where our commitments take most of our time.
How then do we manage our commitments and our time? First, by learning to say “yes”, and “no”, and then with two more detailed tools. One might reasonably “Commit to commit” when further information is needed. (“I need to check my calendar, then I’ll let you know.”) Or perhaps one might counter offer (“I can’t get it done by tomorrow, but I could by Friday”). Finally worth noting is the broken promise: sometimes we have to break a promise. We should always endeavor to do it up-front, to give advance notice and a chance for a renegotiation.
You may wonder why I spent this space on something so simple! Simply put: we thought we had it right until we brand the formal request / promise approach. It has really helped. Secondly, it has really helped in other areas outside of business. I’m sure you can imagine your own examples!
Kurt Van Keppel
President, XIKAR, Inc.