Writing to Win: Deliver What You Promise

WRITING TO WIN:  Deliver What You Promise

Delivering what you promise is crucial in the workplace. It not only reinforces your success, it also bolsters your trustworthiness. It is important to understand that delivering what you promise is a concept that applies to employee and employer. So, it is not enough to understand what you need to do to keep your promises. You must also understand what your employer needs to do to keep their promises. Making good on commitments is a golden rule.  Not making good can create adverse effects for the employee, the employer, and business clients as well.  Altogether, the overall well-being of your company can be threatened.  So, let’s take a brief look at how you can keep your promises, and how employers should keep their promises to you.



It seems as if there is more pressure on an employee to deliver than an employer. It’s certainly plausible given who has the most power. Clearly, the employer appears to be in that position because we don’t want to be fired for poor performance.  So, the pressure is indeed on. Hanging on to a paycheck and benefits is major motivation when it comes to committing to things that may not be possible.

  • Don’t Promise Unrealistic Delivery Dates – Realize your constraints. Present realistic deadline dates for yourself and your team. Yes, being an independent contributor is great because you feel you are the master of your own destiny and are not dependent on others. But what if you are a member of a team? You cannot always predict who will complete tasks according to the schedule. You cannot always predict when you can complete tasks given ‘life circumstances’ that may pop up.
  • Be Realistic when it Comes to the Burdens of Workload– Sometimes job responsibilities change, workload increases. And as I said earlier, employers sometimes underplay the real demands of a job. In either case, most people feel they can keep up regardless. Be thoughtful and above all, be honest with yourself and your manager.  Do not commit to fully satisfying the demands of a position if it is not possible. Voice your concerns so that you can avoid being perceived as over promising and under-delivering.


Most of us like to believe our employer will always follow through on assurances he or she has committed too. But sometimes this is not always the case. So, it is important to be aware of fundamental promises between employer and employee.

  • Employers Should Never be Biased when Granting Promotions – This is absolutely not supposed to occur. It compromises not only ethical principles, but practically speaking, customary human resource directives. And violating these directives can put the company at risk for civil suits given equal protection.
  • Employers Should Always Be Truthful about Job Responsibilities – Remember the old saying, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’? In some cases, if the pressure to fill a position is too great, necessity could entice an employer to stretch the truth when it comes to the realities of workload in a particular position.
  • Employers Should Never Allow Special Privileges to a Few – Seniority and long-time friendships should not influence favors and privileges in a non-union environment. Still, this can occur. An employer or manager given the right circumstances may over promise that he or she will not be partial to specific employees, but may not keep that promise.


  • Be honest with yourself before making a commitment on delivery dates with your client, or workload responsibilities with your employer. Can it be done?
  • Set realistic expectations with your client and employer.
  • Take ownership if you fail to meet expectations. If you are part of a team, do not place the blame on other members. This is counter-productive and will cast a negative light on you.
  • Communicate Quickly and Honestly. If you can see that you are not living up to promises or delivery dates, do not wait until recovery is not possible. As soon as you see the ‘danger signs’ either in your general workload, scheduled date to roll out a product or solution, SPEAK UP.

For an expanded discussion on business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:

Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013

Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010

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**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

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