Promises, Promises.

Last week I wrote about a middle manager who didn’t consider renegotiating a low value project because he’d given his word to his boss.

The response to the post was consistent:

Ken Flowers said,

I have to assume that if the project doesn’t make sense to the middle manager, it also wouldn’t make sense to the VP. If I were the VP and found out that my manager was doing a project that he knew was ineffective, I would be really angry. I would expect him to talk to me about it first. I pay him for his judgment.

Dwayne Phillips posted:

Beware of promising things that are out of your personal control.

“I promise to look at this and get back to you”

“I promise to do what I CAN”

“I promise to investigate what this project means to you, me, my group, and our company.”

On Ken’s site, James Todhunter left this comment:

Concealing material information demonstrates a fundamental lack of integrity. I wouldn’t want such a person on my team. I could never trust their input or judgement.

It’s clear that a middle manager who continues down the wrong path because he “gave his word” is undermining how other people view his integrity.

What happens if we replace “middle manager” with “senior manager” and “boss” with “client” ?

I talked to an executive recently who promised a big client that his company would deliver a special project for them.

Unfortunately, he made a promise on the basis of incomplete information. Once he talked to his development group and ran the numbers, it turned out the work he promised will have a negative return on investment. And it’s a double whammy: doing the low value work will delay doing higher value work, and cause the group to miss other targets.

But the executive refuses to consider going back to his client to explain the situation and renegotiate. He gave his word, and he feels his integrity is at stake.

How does the change in position and authority effect your response about the integrity question?