Be Mindful: An Over-Promise Workplace

Disappointment usually caused by a gap between high expectation and low reality. The gap could be stimulated by oneself (e.g. because expecting/imagining too much) – or else, from another party (e.g. because an over-promise) which eventually led to higher expectation of oneself. My reflection tonight brought my thought to see this over-promise issue in workplace context from at least 2 sides: management and individuals.

over-promise could influence your journey in a workplace

The first thought is from the management side. I’ve been lucky enough to be part (although in small size) of policy designer team in companies since several years ago. As a human capital practitioner, specifically, I observed that it’s too risky, if not dangerous, to over-promise the candidates or even the employees about any dimension of workplace (e.g. compensation & benefits, culture, management style, leadership philosophy, etc.). Because of this over-promise and under-deliver management in workplace, it is possible that new joiner and current employee become demotivated, decided to quit, or worse – turned into a ‘toxic’ individual who influences other employees negatively.

Below points might help me to remember – or you to reflect, in avoiding an over-promise workplace as part of management:

  1. Positive employer brand is a necessity, but don’t sell your company’s utopia. Tell real stories of your employee experiences instead. You can choose real-inspiring stories, which might ignite candidates’ curiosity to join your company – rather than only your utopia values or ‘dreamed ideal working condition’.
  2. Keep your organization’s / company’s integrity. Sounds simple, but not easy. An organization’s integrity is shown through every business process and its people. Whenever you say, for instance, that your company care about employee’s mental health; but its leaders’ emotional intelligence isn’t well trained – employee’s might prefer to find another workplace who have better leaders.
  3. If you could only provide X total rewards for candidates/employees, don’t try to convince them to join your workplace by telling them that it’s possible to get X+1. The feeling of loosing something (although they didn’t really have it yet) might create bigger disappointment.

The second thought is from the individual side. As an individual employee, I report to leaders – and/or shareholders. The way an employment works in general is through the fulfillment of management’s / shareholders’ expectations – which in return, total rewards would be given. In order to achieve the maximum range of total rewards, individual employee might over-promise, by telling the management and/or shareholder things beyond their capability.

Below points might help me (and you), as an individual, to avoid over-promise which could cause such disappointment from management/shareholder, that could impact negatively to our employment experiences in the workplace:

  1. Obvious first point: integrity. Once a coach told me, that integrity isn’t ‘how much’ a person has, but rather ‘there is’ an integrity or not within oneself. Some people have a good ability to tell stories of themselves; therefore, they add some spices on their stories to impress, to convince, and to influence decision makers. Nevertheless, not all of those who can tell good stories were also able to make it into good reality.
  2. Think about sustainability. Over-promise leads to disappointment. In other words, it lessens others’ trust to us. I’ve heard people say that trust is an important currency in employment and/or business. We might lose many opportunities in the future (therefore: unsustainable career journey) once management / shareholder experienced such an over-promise from us.
  3. Let your action/work/productivity tell who you are. Try to impress or to show who you are to others through your works – not your words. You might agree that actions speak louder – although if you could: actions and accountable words sounds like a beautiful harmony.

My reflection from both sides reminded me tonight, that managing expectation (of both management and individuals) – through promise – isn’t easy. Especially for an HR practitioner who technically bridging leaders/shareholders and individuals (employees), managing promises from both sides would take such energy and emotional stability as it might drain our mental health.

As a note to myself – also to you:

If you’re part of management/shareholder – try to create good and supportive workplace, understand that there’s always rooms for improvement. Therefore, admit that you might lack of several aspects/dimensions – while keep telling people that you have strengths in other sides.

If you’re an individual – be yourself, remember that having a sustainable trust is better than a short-term impression. Communicate your concerns, but also understand that system’s/organization’s improvement takes time.

To end this, try not to over-promise.



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