Over-promising and under-delivering . . .

Terry Sage of Trades Coaching New Zealand

I’ve just come back from a two-day conference — nothing to do with work and all to do with my sport, one of them anyway. Just to clarify — if any of you get to talk to the boss indoors, she will say the sport has preference in every way over all other aspects of our normal life. I am going on record to say that that is totally unfounded. 


But it gets the attention because it is a major marketing tool for the business through the sponsorship dedication I betroth upon it. Now, I am totally against any sexist remarks in business, and especially in my writing, but she has her sports too, and the retail sector benefits enormously for it. 


Fellow sports enthusiasts, do I have your support here? Right, now I have dug that hole and probably not managed to climb out of it as cleanly as I wished, why am I going on about a conference? It’s because of the many conferences I have to attend, this one is, by far, consigned to the category of rubbish (a usable word for print but not as descriptive as I really intended). 


I’m sure you’ve all been to conferences, and you know what makes a good conference, right? The bottom line is for all the guff that goes on in the conference, you want to come away with all the warm fuzzy feelings of motivation, positivity, inspiration and camaraderie. 


Not walking out saying what a waste of two days, and that the organisers are all a bunch of pole throwers. This particular conference was billed as the turning point for the sport. We were told there has to be wholesale change or the sport will cease, and that big decisions will have to be made. 


Great, bring it on, let’s get stuck into making changes for the better of all involved. Talk about false advertising — not a single decision was made, and it culminated in “this is the clubs’ problem, sort it out amongst yourselves”. 


So on the long drive home I had time to calm down and reflect upon what I’d heard. I strongly believe that all clubs, sports and otherwise, with volunteers or employees, should operate under a business structure. 


It struck me that if any of my clients ran their businesses as this particular executive runs this association, the chances of them staying in business for a long period of time would be slim. Promising the world First, they promised the world with statements they knew the membership wanted to hear. 


Then they rather cleverly orchestrated the weekend to start conversations on the important topics, but packed the agenda so full that the words “great we need to move on but we will come back to that” were used extensively. 


Clever move number two was that they left the most controversial topic until last. The discussion was allowed to go way over the time limit so that there was no time for the “come back to that” on all the other topics. So in two days nothing was achieved. 


Or was it? The executive will now make the decisions and say “well, you guys failed to come to a conclusion so we have done it for you”. This is business by manipulation. It is a means to get your own way, but it leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth — and using this strategy will ensure that return business from any client is not very likely. 


Thank you for letting me vent my frustrations, but it’s not all about my psychological well-being, important as that is, of course. It is to say there is a crucial message here. Do not over-promise and under-deliver, and do not treat your clients like they are dumb. The only one that will end up looking dumb will be you.

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