When you say, “I’ll try,” I hear, “I’m not going to Do this”

Interview with Carmen Carrozza of AM1490

First off, if you aren’t too busy at 4pm EST today, tune in to listen to my interview with Carmen Carrozza on AM 1490!
Here’s the link!

Now, onto today’s post! How to get people to do things they say they’re going to do?

Ever had a peer who tried to renege on their obligation to do a task they’d promised to do for months? And then they didn’t want a consequence for their action? Okay, so let’s say this person promised to write a grant. And then, over and over, they didn’t do it. They made excuse after excuse. They might say, “Well, anyway, look at that thing over there!” And try to distract you to defuse your argument.

One of the things that they don’t teach you is that you MUST be tenacious to be in this field.

I said, “Can you do it by this deadline?” And they said, “I’LL TRY.”

When I helpfully suggested, “Okay, here’s your deadline, and if you don’t do it by then, let’s sit down the next day and I’ll help you write it.”

And they said, “Rather not. I can’t collaboratively write.”

And I said, “Look, I have so many things to do, that I NEED to sit in a room with people and do something. If I don’t, then I’m going to find a way to squirrel out of it.”

And what I didn’t add was, “AND SO WILL YOU.”

Here’s the deal. When you say, “I’ll try” you’re really saying, “I don’t want to do this and you can’t make me and I am not going to do this.”

So own up.

Don’t try to dodge the issue. It’s not going to help you. Get down to the work you need to do.

Figure out how to do it
If you’re not doing what you need to do, figure out why. Is it because the task will take too much time? Seems too big? Seems too amorphous? What is getting in your way?

A person in your office is cranky and sabotaging you? Shut the door. Go to a coffeeshop. Get out of there and do your work. Make it fun for yourself.

Managing Other People Who Say I’ll Try
And if you’re trying to manage someone who seems incapable of taking responsibility for their situation, or incapable of doing the work they said they would do, you MUST pin them down, no matter how much they squirm. Sorry if this evokes butterflies in glass, but sometimes people just need a person to sit down with them and help them get it done.

If a board member isn’t doing their work, ask your boss to ask them to do it, or just sit down at the next board meeting, pin them with your steely eyes, open your calendar, and say, “When would you like to get this done together?”

This goes for board members, your directors, your program people, whoever is avoiding your eyes lately. You have power to help people succeed. And you can help them take responsibility, and get in a virtuous cycle. But reach out. Make that first step. And even if they don’t like it, it will get done. And they’ll know that if they try to squirm out of it again, you will be right there to make them do it.

Do you have any ways that you have helped people finally own their responsibility and do the work? I’d love to hear your story in the comments!

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