Sunday, June 22, 2008

Honor your commitments

Obvious, right? Yet seldom people do. It all boils down to that short, simple word: Trust. And trust can make or break a deal, can’t it? But if it’s so important, why then people don’t honor their commitments?

When I was a teenager I suffered of disorganization and lack of direction and focus. Then I started working and soon I learned that professional life is filled with commitments. From the specific goals for your position to the staff meetings, you acquire commitments all the time.

And people expect you to do what you said you were going to do, when you said you were going to do it, using the parameters you agreed to use.

So I embraced this “honoring my commitments” philosophy and I’ve been like that ever since.

I’ve recently experienced quite the opposite working inside a corporate culture in which getting 30 minutes late to a meeting or not showing up at all is considered normal. I reluctantly accept a 15 minute tardiness. Any longer than that is simply an insult. Or so I thought.

Now my new challenge is to not let myself be contaminated by such culture, which is somewhat hard to do because if they’re not going to show up, why bother handing in your homework?

So far, I’ve been able to identify two kinds of people:
- Those who say they’re going to do x or y and don’t do it and…
- Those who just can’t say no to anything.

I intend to make this post into a wake up call for the vast number of people who take commitments lightly:

Do you want your customers and employees loyalty?
Earn their trust.
Do things when you say you’re going to do them. To the minute.
Do things the way you say you’re going to do them. Always.
Strive for excellence.

It will render high dividends, even more sales! As the Mastercard campaign goes: “Being trustworthy: Priceless”.

All the best!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Accountability (Part 3)

The past couple of weeks I presented two examples of accountability in the workplace (Accountability Part 1 and Part 2). This week I’ll cover a polemic topic. IM at the office.

Bottom line, I think Messenger and other IM platforms should be allowed at work.

Here in Colombia, the general rule in companies is that you’re not permitted to IM while at work. As with anything that’s prohibited, you want it more! And this creates the need to find a way to get around this rule. And believe me, people will always find a way to get around it.

So it becomes this clandestine activity and you end up using valuable time trying not to get caught.

The idea behind this rule is that you don’t waste working hours chatting to your friends online; computers are set up so that you won’t be able to access any chatting software.

Now let’s go back to the title of this article, accountability.

I used to work for a company where IM was not only allowed but encouraged! So I concluded:

• When IM is allowed, most people tend to use it more and more sparingly as time passes. They end up getting tired of it.

• Performance should be evaluated based on results, goals and expectations, not on how many hours your backside is on the chair.

• IM can even be used as a working tool, you can easily share files, video-conference… and you can save time by not having to go to the 10th floor to ask something from someone.

So the idea I want to leave you with is this:

The issue is not breathing down the necks of each of your employees to see what they do every hour of every day and try to ensure that they do their work. The approach should be to set clear goals and expectations from the beginning and follow them up regularly. I’ve found that most people will step up to the plate and deliver.

Caveat: There are indeed people who are addicted to IMing and who don’t deliver results. If this is the case, IM allows you to tell those who do deliver from those who will find any excuse to procrastinate.

All the best!