E0101: The Truths about Overcommitting & Underdelivering & how to NOT do it!

E0101: The Truths about Overcommitting & Underdelivering & how to NOT do it!

This is the 1st of the new professional development ‘tune-up’ series! Short mini session, to elevate your game.Who has ever experienced working with a contractor/technician/repair person? As soon as we say this, we know.. UGH.. it’s going to be an awful and painful experience.

It’s beyond frustrating and we end up going through 32 flavours of emotion. From being patient, to irritated to angry. It’s amazing what happens, when these contractors overcommit and under-deliver.  

Think of the experience that we go through, we someone like a contractor/technician or anyone in our lives underdeliver. There is a reason why parents always say ‘please don’t promise things to my kids, that you’re unable to deliver’. There is a massive fallout and disappointment that occurs. It’s hard to repair and pick up the pieces for someone to break promises.

It’s interesting, we all know how it feels – which feels AWFUL! Yet, so many of us to this at work.

We have a habit of saying ‘yes’ at work.  We don’t want to disappoint someone, or don’t want to be seen as collaborative.  Then, we sit down and realize that we can’t make that timeline. We try to make it work but we just can’t do it. Some of us, may get all stressed out trying our best to make the timelines, some will just continue working on our own timelines (often, failing to communicate or notify the other vested party that we can’t make that timeline). Yet, we all KNOW how it feels to be let down.

Here is the impact of not managing expectations of not being able to make the timeline.  TRUST IS BROKEN. Yup, ultimately, we stop trusting the other person. They get seen as unreliable and the perception of ‘take their timelines and commitments’ with a grain of salt. 

It happens all the time. Now, there are ways to mitigate this risk. Here are some practical tactics.


Don’t commit to anything, until you take the time to scope things out.  Just say ‘let me get back to you on timelines, I want to scope things out’. What you’re saying is, let me do some due diligence to come up with a realistic plan that will generate a win-win. This shows a level of maturity. Then break down the task into smaller tasks & timelines. This needs to be looked at holistically, with all the other items that you have. Sometimes, saying YES to something, means that we need to say NO to something else. Or better yet, we can ask our supervisors/bosses/stakeholders to help us re-prioritize. 


If you don’t know the expected turnaround time – Sit down and talk.  Align on what is feasible and what isn’t feasible during that timeline. Find out, what do they need 1st. What is their minimum acceptable product/deliverable that they need. They may not need everything, just a few things. One of my favourite lines is, “when is the latest that I can get this back to you’? You'll be surprised, you might be thinking at the end of the week and they may be thinking the end of the month. Not everyone is reactive!


Look folks, people are not mind readers. This part always drives me insane… just like those that don’t signal to change lanes. It doesn’t take much to send a quick message to say ‘Got the request, just looking into it’. This shows that you’ve acknowledged their request and it’s not going into a black hole. Give them quick updates or even let them see drafts. Communicate with them THROUGHOUT the journey, not just at the beginning and at the end. 


If you can’t do something, be upfront. I am a girl that likes options. I always provide 2 or 3 options. I don’t want to be seen as the person that throws things over the fence and say ‘catch- it’s your problem’. I want people to know, that I may not be able to do something because of X,Y,Z reasons. However, here are a few options that might help you solve this issue. For example, Sally is doing something similar and you might be able to leverage this  or I can do it, in a few weeks (beginning of Dec) or there I could oversee one of their team members and they can do the work and I can coach them through it.  

People like options, they want to know that there is no dead end. Can you imagine, going to the doctors and being told that there is no options to get healthy! Don’t be that person! Provide options, so that people know there is hope. They will respect you for your honesty and the ability to think things through.

I’ve got a freebie for you.  After Action Review or Reflections review. I do this at the end of every milestone or deliverable.  I’ve created a free cheatsheet for you, that you can easily download and try. Just click here REFLECTIONS AFTER ACTION REVIEW. It takes 10 minutes to do a reflection to thinking.

Let me know what your thoughts are.

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