Should you promise everything or what you can deliver? Copyright: dolgachov / 123RF Stock Photo










Anyone who’s ever had a job interview anytime in their life (probably most, if not all, of you reading this) has more than likely over-egged the pudding a little bit when talking about their achievements during that interview. You know the kind of thing – exaggerating the size of team you managed or the level of responsibility you really had slightly. In some cases, you might even take the approach of ‘I’ll tell them I can do that and figure it out later.’

These kinds of small white lies are pretty-commonplace and, if they get you the job, then you can justify using them. But what about once you’ve joined your new organisation and are asked to present your strategic plan for the next 90 days, should you overpromise here too?

This is a very different situation and one where underperforming matters more than it did during your interview. Here, you’ll be face-to-face with those right at the top of the organisation telling them what you’re going to do for their company, not just trying to impress someone from HR who’s scoring your answers against other candidates.

Getting this pitch right is crucial. You’ll have big ideas you want to start implementing and want to impress the new boss. That’s natural. You’ve worked hard to get here and beaten other people to the job so it’s only right to feel good about yourself.

The key is not to let that enthusiasm and energy get the better of you. If you’ve been asked to talk about what you’ll do for the next 90 days, stick to that timeline. Don’t be tempted to cram all your thoughts for the next 12 months in.

Start by writing down your plans. Now decide what’s realistic in the short-term and what can only be done in the long-term. It’s really important to be honest here as the people you’re presenting to will have a clear idea of what can – and can’t – be implemented. They’ll be looking for you to make practical plans that will make a real difference.

Some of the shorter-term stuff will naturally lead on to the longer-term stuff so there’s a good chance they’ll come to fruition at some point in the future. You can always cover these briefly in your presentation so the leaders of your organisation understand what you’re trying to do.

Keeping the promises you’ve made means you’re more likely to be seen in a good light. People will then see you as someone who does what they say and doesn’t break promises. You’ll then be trusted to get on with your job, be given more responsibility and enjoy the benefits – financial and otherwise – that come with this.

The flipside is true too. If your plans are too bold and you don’t deliver them, your career might suffer. You’re unlikely to be offered extra responsibilities, for a while at least, and you’ll have to build your reputation and image back up.

It’s much better to promise you’ll do something and do it, rather than overpromise and underdeliver. Leaders like people in their organisation who can be relied upon to deliver things on time, so be who you say you are and do what you’ll say you do. It’s much better all round.