Make Commitments You Can Honor and Honor Your Commitments

One of our most important assets is our reputation and it is important to build and guard your reputation. One of the ways we do this is honoring the commitments we make. Therefore, it is important to consider a commitment before we make it to determine our willingness, ability, and likelihood of honoring it. This holds true for concrete deals like an employment contract and to implied deals made to colleagues or direct reports. As a leader, we need to be very thoughtful about our words.

How to Determine if We Can Honor the Commitment

Assuming that the commitment is being made in good faith and we intend to honor it, the reality is that sometimes our focus is distracted from honoring our part of the deal. To this end here are three things to consider when making a commitment to ensure that you are making a commitment that you can and will honor.


Is our goal to help the other person or is our goal to help ourselves? Ideally the deal will benefit both parties, but how we perceive the benefits of the commitment can influence our follow-through. The more we perceive self benefit, whether tangible or intangible, the more likely we are to prioritize what we have agreed to do and honor the commitment.


What is the timing of the benefit versus our commitment? Do we benefit after all parts of the agreement have come to pass or is our benefit happen before we honor our portion of the commitment. Unfortunately, after we have received the benefit, we are more likely to be distracted by other things and lose focus on what we have promised to do and it is easier for other things to become prioritized after we have already received the benefit.

People Involved

Who needs to be involved to meet the commitment and what resources are involved? Before making a deal, we need to consider who else will be impacted and what resources we need. We need to consider if we have the authority to make the commitment and will it require action on the part of one or more others. If the deal involves others to approve actions taken or to take the actions on our behalf, we need to be careful when making the commitment because we are speaking for others. We also need to understand the resources involved and make sure they are at our disposal.

What Happens When You Can’t Honor the Commitment?

Even when you have considered these things before making a commitment, things can go awry, but we should be committed to making sure that these are the rare exception, not the rule. If we do find ourselves unable to honor a commitment, we can minimize the loss of reputation by handling it properly:

  1. Take ownership – It is important that we take personal responsibility for the issue. Shifting blame or pretending the commitment didn’t exist will only harm our reputation more. People will resent a leader’s inability to take responsibility and lose respect for the person.
  2. Apologize – Humbling yourself and saying you are sorry can be a difficult thing to do. In a society that espouses, “friendship means never having to say you are sorry” and tells us that admitting fault is a weakness, it takes great courage to apologize. In reality an apology is a sign of strength and good character. We all makes mistakes, but it is a true leader who can admit them and people respect someone who will apologize.
  3. Make it Right – In the end, you need to do what you can to make it right. You may be able to honor the commitment on a delayed schedule or have to come up with an alternative, but you should do what you can to make it right within your ability. Others will respect your effort and it demonstrates that you care about your commitments and don’t take them casually.

As leaders, our words and commitments are on always on display to be evaluated by those around us. We must consider our commitments and be conscious of implied commitments to make sure they are ones we can and will honor. When we are unable to honor a commitment, it is essential that we take ownership, apologize, and try to make it right.

The One Question You Should Always Ask

Whether you are talking to a SME, working with contractors, hiring a new employee or just about any situation you are trying to gather information, there is one question you should always ask:

What haven’t I asked that I should have?

Question_PuzzleOver the years, this question (or a variation on it) has served me countless times. Asking this question draws on the expertise of the person you are talking to. It causes them to analyse the conversation you have just had and compare it to their experiences and knowledge. It usually brings out the greatest gems of information. When talking to a SME, it has brought out time-saving tips and tricks or ideas that are revolutionary and innovative. From contractors, it has drawn on their greater experience on process and we were able hash out details that make the whole process of our working relationship smoother. It has saved time and money. With potential employees, it has allowed them to share the skills, interests and experiences that have not conveniently fit into the questions asked but that the candidate really wants me to know. It has been a way to discover hidden talents and interests so that the best hiring decisions can be made.

The reality is that as much as we prepare for conversations with others, we will not necessarily have the right questions to get all the information and this simple question, often covers that gap. Next time you are collecting information from someone, give it a try. Ask them, What haven’t I asked you that I should have? Experience the difference for yourself.


Customize it!

Everything these days is customized…your burger at fast food restaurants…your wedding vows…your new car and using variables and advanced actions in Adobe Captivate, so can your e-learning.

In a recent course I created on Interview skills I decided to include an interview simulations. In addition to the feedback that happened throughout the scenario, I decided to provide a summary of customized feedback at the end of the scenario.


Setting the Scene

I designed a scenario for the training that many managers would face, hiring a person for a counter sales position.


User Decisions

The user then goes through the scenario, making decisions about actions to take and questions to ask. I attached the responses to variables using standard actions so that when a user chooses a specific answer it may add one to the variable.


Receiving Feedback

At the end of the scenario, the user receives customized feedback on the interview they conducted. I was able to use a conditional action to evaluate the variables and based on the variables value, show certain feedback. This allows the feedback to be very specific to the choices the employee made.


From a Technical Side

So for each decision that a user was going to make, I created a variable. When the employee clicks on a decision choice, it either activates a standard action that increments the variable by one or it does nothing, leaving the value of the variable alone. Clicking the choices also moves the scenario forward based on the decision made. At the end of the scenario, the user receives summary feedback. For the summary feedback section at the end of the scenario, I created invisible text boxes with different feedback for each of the major concepts that I wanted to give the employee feedback on. Most times there were two different feedback options, but for some there were more. Advanced Action ScreenUpon entry to the slide, I used a conditional action to evaluate the variables. For each variable, I set up the action to evaluate the value of the variable and based on that value, it would show a specific text box. For instance, if the value of the variable was 1, it would show text box A, else, it would show text box B.


This allowed me to provide customized feedback to each employee taking the course. I also allow them to go through the scenario repeatedly so it was important that I attached a standard action to my restart button that clears all the feedback and resets the value of all the variables back to 0.

If you are interested in creating some customized feedback Adobe Captivate’s variables and advanced actions are a great way to do this. If you would like more information about this process, reach out to me and I would be happy to help you.



Don’t Get Mad…Get Better

MadBabyI recently had an experience where a participant in one of my training sessions came to me during a break and handed me a piece of paper with tic marks on it for each time I said “uh” during the session. Inside I was feeling defensive and couldn’t help but notice this person using “uh” as he was explaining this was a pet peeve for him and that he had gone to special training to to improve his public speaking. But the reality is, that each time a person finds fault and they tell you, it is a gift and an opportunity to become better.

Here are my 5 Steps to not get mad, but get better:

  • Hear what the person is pointing out, not the tone or the presentation. When we get caught up in how someone says something, we are more likely to get defensive. Take a deep breath and choose not to get mad.
  • Asses what they are saying for truth. Think about the content and find the truth in it. In my example, I presenting round-table and sitting with all the participants and had allowed my language to be more lax.
  • Determine what you need to change to improve for the future. Outline steps you can take to make a change and improve your work, or in this case my delivery style. This particular thing was something I had addressed earlier in my career and recorded presentations so that I could hear myself and become more self-aware.
  • Implement your improvement plan. Take action to resolve the issue or build up your skills and abilities.
  • Evaluate the improvement. Always look back to see the improvement. Ideally, if the person who originally brought it up can give you another honest assessment, ask them. This makes sure that person knows you heard them and care about what they said and took action.

Growth and improvement is key to building our career and our self as a person and other people around us are our best source of information for areas where we can improve. The next time someone points something out to you, don’t get mad…GET BETTER!

Training, Sales, and Marketing

What role does sales and marketing take in your training implementation and delivery?

If you said, none, you are missing opportunities. In today’s world, people are consumers of everything, including knowledge. They are constantly setting priorities around an understanding of what’s in it for them.

If you don’t consider how to market your training and sell learners on the importance of your information, you are reducing your training impact. Even when training is required, learner’s can be physically present without being “present”. If you want to be your training to be impactful, it is key to have the learner actively invested and engaged.

Ways to market and sell your training:

  • Before creating a training program, you have done some analysis, so use that information to target your audience and invite those with the most need for the training. Make sure the right people know about your training event.
  • Communicate analysis information so that people are ware of knowledge or performance gaps and what the potentials for change are.
  • Create a buzz for new initiatives or programs. Give people enough to make them wonder and if your budget can sustain it, a give-away that will be a reminder of the initiative or event. Continually reminders of something build a psychological affinity for it.
  • Use social media and communications to put out short sound bites to build a buzz. Post questions or relevant facts and invite people to interact. Use acronyms or clever slogans to make it memorable.
  • Make sure the learner knows what is in it for them. Tap into their motivation by making sure how this information is going to make their lives easier by improving efficiency, better by increasing their bottom line and financial compensation or their status, or more fun. Training is an investment of a person’s time, emotional, and maybe even financial resources. Make sure they know what you offer is worth the cost!

Are you actively marketing and selling your training? If not, it is time to reevaluate your approach.