As an organization that aspires to, or prides itself as an organization of choice, you can never put a price on keeping your promises to your employees. A lot of times during interviews, whether out of excitement, or a ploy to make the job or the organisation seem more desirable to applicants, HR Managers or other interviewers often see the need to make laudable promises that they don’t intend to keep, that they probably intend to keep but eventually don’t as a result of unforeseen negative changes in the financial status of the organization, or that even they as current employees of the organization do not enjoy. 

A lot of employees have pointed to unfulfilled promises made during interviews as one of the causes of the demotivation they feel on the job. Some of these promises range from an increase in pay as soon as an employee successfully completes the probationary period, agreed number of weeks allocated for annual leave, agreed percentages of their salaries allocated for leave allowances, plans to sponsor  employee’s professional courses, agreed percentages as sales commission for meeting or exceeding sales targets, and the list simply endless.

In this article, I share an interesting story of a promise made and promise kept by my husband to me and what your organization can learn from following through with promises made.

A few weeks back, my husband and I had discussed some career ideas that he wanted me to consider and more importantly implement. In his opinion, his plan was going to aid my career growth.

To make me more cooperative and even more likely to implement these ideas which he was convinced were fail-proof, or maybe out of the excitement of the moment, he decided at the spur of the moment that, in addition to fully supporting me in procuring all necessary tools that would be needed for implementation, he would also include a monthly monetary cash reward as soon as implementation begins.

I gave a wry smile outwardly, but I was super excited on the inside at the thought of the monetary reward he had promised (he always keeps his word) and I immediately began to consider different options for implementation in my head.

The expectation I had of full support and a cash reward from my husband is always the expectation of your employees whenever you make promises to them. You may forget, but they never do!

What important lessons can your organization learn from this?

  • Your employees will always put in their best when they see what is in for them. It shouldn’t come to you as a surprise that your employees are more inclined to perform tasks when they are clear on what they stand to benefit from it – whether it is in form of cash, recognition or other form of reward, especially agreed reward.
  • Always follow through on your promises otherwise your employees will lose faith in you as a credible leader. Don’t be like my husband, never make promises at the spur of the moment. Think through your promises carefully, count the cost accurately and be sure that you are financially capable as an organization to honour your pledge.
  • Be willing to document. Don’t cringe in displeasure when your employees ask that you sign a document holding you to your word. You can’t blame them, they probably have had bad experiences of unfulfilled promises. You show your integrity as a leader when you’re willing to go all the way to prove your worth.
  • In the event that you can no longer keep your word to your employees for whatever reason, speak to them about it immediately and sincerely. Tell them honestly what the real reason are, don’t cover up information or be patronizing. Don’t wait until they find out for themselves that you won’t be keeping your promises. They would be disastrously disappointed.

PS: I just received my first cash reward.

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