Does your team over-commit?

How often have you seen members of your team commit to something that they then don’t do? How often have you done it yourself?

It’s not because *they* (ahem) are bad people, or even that they didn’t intend to do it. But simply that they’d only made only one commitment, rather than the 2 that are needed. Commitment to others and commitment to themselves.

In the heat of a request, or a meeting with many eyes, or a boss (you?) who they want to please, what they do looks like commitment, but in reality is over-promising. When you overpromise, you’ve essentially committed to others, but not to yourself. And you only get things done that you’ve committed you’ll do to yourself.

It’s rarely a question of bad intent. They’ve just got the order the wrong way round – they commit to others before they’ve checked that they can deliver on it. In other words they’ve committed to others before checking they can commit to themselves.

So next time you ask a member on your team if they can do something that will take time, explicitly ask them to think through if they’re able to commit to doing it, that they have the capacity – whether that’s time or resource (or, more tricky, motivation) – to get it done.

And perhaps do the same yourself if you’re guilty of this, as I’ve often been.

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