Managers have a number of tools at their disposal that make their job easier, especially in the age of data processing technology that allows them to make decisions quickly and accurately and monitor employee performance. Despite of this, it often happens that managers simply cannot meet their goal. One of the reasons why is the disinterest of employees and the reluctance to invest effort in fulfilling a certain task.

Regardless of the reason employees are not interested, through a strategy of giving and receiving promises, managers can encourage everyone in the department to engage more. This approach has only recently been developed and is based on carrot and stick tactics. Depending on whether employees keep their promise, they receive a reward or some form of punishment.

What is very interesting is the application of this tactic not only at lower ranks, but also with other managers of the same or higher rank. In cases where several departments are collaborating on one project, leaders or coordinators can ask each other for promises. By making a promise they put their reputation at stake, and this encourages them to be successful in carrying out their tasks. Such a mental circuit is then transferred to lower ranks within the department.

Encouraging promises has also proved to be very effective. For example, a department head may express a need for someone’s help with a particular task or project. An employee who shows initiative and calls for help is actually making a tacit promise that he is capable of carrying out the task. In such cases, managers do not need to work hard to encourage the employee to do his job effectively – just like managers of the same rank from the previous example, he promised to put his reputation at stake and will do everything to show himself in the best possible light.

What leaders shouldn’t forget is that they too must keep the promises they have made. For them, it is even more important than for employees. The moment they don’t keep their promise employees lose their zeal and willingness to work, often thinking it’s not worth the effort because the boss makes ‘empty promises’. That is why managers are initially advised to make smaller promises so as not to let down their employees and thus damage the company’s business.

Keep your promises and be consistent. Be the kind of person others can trust.

Roy T. Bennett