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If You Can't Keep Your Word, Honor It

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We often talk about keeping our word -- making a commitment and sticking to it, no matter what.

But we don't often talk about honoring our word -- acknowledging when we can't meet a commitment.

There will inevitably be times when we can't keep our word as circumstances change for one reason or another.

Say you've committed to meeting a milestone on a specific date, for example. To keep your word, you have to do whatever it takes to make that date. But to honor your word, you only need to follow up with the person you made the commitment to and clarify why you can't meet the deadline. I'd also recommend recommitting to a different date, time or scope.

This way, you're not simply hiding and hoping that things will work out, or that you won't be asked about a deliverable. Be confident enough to raise the issue directly, knowing that it will maintain a workable relationship.

Even if you're unable to deliver as promised, you can at least be relied upon to raise red flags early enough, without downplaying the severity, to allow the client or team time to align their activities accordingly. And that saves time and money.

To maintain a healthy relationship on your team, you must honor your word. It impacts the results of your work, your reputation, and your ability to earn a renewed trust from your clients and project team members.

Honoring your word restores your integrity and creates workability. But the better you assess estimated target dates for the project tasks and milestones and your ability to manage your day-to-day activities per your own commitments to others, the easier it will to keep your word and "do it right the first time."


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To honor your word is more important than to keep your word in a sense that everyone naturally knows the benefits and importance of fulfilling their commitments. But people normally do mistakes to honor their word, if they couldn't keep them for some reasons.

The level of effort that was generated by the team in the planning stage must be proactively manage during the execution phase.

At the same time monitored and control measures must be implemented when the need arises, to correct target schedules departing from the project baseline.

The project manager (being the team leader)should lead the team and management them to achieve commitments and deadlines as the project life cycle progresses on a day to day basis.

Great post, I totally agree with this post. Communication really is the key in running a successful project.

I remember a few years ago I had to let go a graphic designer within our company for this exact reason.

I would then ask him about when he would have a design completed he would normally give me some unrealistic date, such as tomorrow. I would then go back to the client and let them know.

The date would come and go and still no design. He would say sorry I couldn't get it done, this would go on and on. If he was just straight up from the start and set achievable time-lines the client wouldn't have minded the wait.

Most of the time people don't mind waiting a bit longer so long as they have a date and you meet it. If you keep lying about the date or trying to push for unrealistic deadlines clients start to get grumpy very fast, which makes for a very unhappy working relationship and in the end taints any good work that you do with them.

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