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I'm running into an issue where I'm not over-promising. Someone else is.

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And they're causing me to have to deliver for them. It's a frustrating position to be in. But I just take it one day at a time. But you can still present realistic expectations - trust me, you will be shocked how surprised someone is when you say "honestly, I am not sure that is something that we can handle at this time. It is probably a limit etc", then a day later, when you give them the results they were asking for, they absolutely love you!

It isn't dishonest, you are simply telling them not to give their hopes up.


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If I have to research first I say that I have to look into that before I can give you an answer. After that, no matter the answer good or bad, I deliver the answer. Then the decisions are made. I think anyone that has time to be offended by getting an answer like this, just doesn't have enough to do. Seriously, I don't see a problem with it, and I dare a user to come complain to me that one of my guys told them "I'll see what I can do".

Now if it's the President of the company on the other hand, well just safer to tell them "will do", and have to tell them later why not. I think "I'll see what I can do" is a perfectly reasonable response. Especially if it's a user request which is no critical. And "I'll do the best I can" is also good. When a user comes in with a laptop riddled with viruses due to misuse and urgently needs resumed use of his system "I'll do the best I can" is pretty much all you can say!

This is exactly what I tell my users. If I cannot immediately help someone I will let them know that I require time to sufficiently research the issue and that I will come back to them with a solution, if they ask if I can solve their problem I will answer them with "I will certainly see what I can do. I think if you promise them anything else and you cannot fix their problem you'll look worse for it. Honesty is always the best policy - making promises you can't keep is just creating double the pain further down the line.

Sooner or later you're going to have to tell the user it can't be done, or it's not a priority just now, etc etc. People accept most things quite happily as long as you are genuine and keep your promises. I do prefer to say "Let me look into that and I will get back to you" rather than either of the phrases in the title, though. Had to do it with the CEO yesterday, have the deliverable ready to go this morning.

She'd better be happy! If I find something is not possible I usually try and explain why I think that is the case, the 50,ft overview, business terms, etc. Definitely avoid geekspeek. Sometimes it is possible but I don't have the time to make it happen, if the business needs it sooner then it's up to the department head to work it out with me and the CEO as to what else gets pushed back.

Setting a timeframe expectation up front usually works for me. If I can't "look into it" until next week I tell them that, if that's a problem then we discuss.

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We in IT are the experts, but be clear that being the expert doesn't mean you know all there is to know. I use analogies a lot. Same picture can be painted using the auto mechanic and the complexity of modern day cars. Obvious exceptions - boss, payroll, etc. I've also tried to educate people mostly classroom teachers that the same thing applies to tech support as it does to their students; raise your hand, wait your turn, be polite, etc. Since the normal priorities are first in - first out then this in effect lets them determine their place in line.

IF they wait a week to submit a work order then they are a week farther away than they were when they made the verbal inquiry. For the people that use the process work orders can take from a couple of minutes to complete simple AD password problems for students to much longer building a new math lab, etc. I think under-promising and over-delivering is the best way to do things, but not being dishonest about it. Also something that I've had to do at this job that I didn't really before is have a schedule.

When people call and ask do you have a minute, I check my schedule before just saying "sure. I say this pretty often I think those are legit statements. As it has been said before However, if it's your boss that's telling you not to say that then I would modify what you're saying. As with computers there are more ways than one to skin a cat. I too subscribe to under-promise, over-deliver but I can see how it can be viewed as ambiguous. I know it's "just a chance" and it "probably won't happen that way", but I am constantly suprised in this line of work, so I take nothing for granted.

Now if it's the President of the company on the other hand, well just safer to tell them "will do", and have to tell them later why not. I think "I'll see what I can do" is a perfectly reasonable response. Especially if it's a user request which is no critical. And "I'll do the best I can" is also good. When a user comes in with a laptop riddled with viruses due to misuse and urgently needs resumed use of his system "I'll do the best I can" is pretty much all you can say!

This is exactly what I tell my users. If I cannot immediately help someone I will let them know that I require time to sufficiently research the issue and that I will come back to them with a solution, if they ask if I can solve their problem I will answer them with "I will certainly see what I can do. I think if you promise them anything else and you cannot fix their problem you'll look worse for it.

Honesty is always the best policy - making promises you can't keep is just creating double the pain further down the line. Sooner or later you're going to have to tell the user it can't be done, or it's not a priority just now, etc etc. People accept most things quite happily as long as you are genuine and keep your promises. I do prefer to say "Let me look into that and I will get back to you" rather than either of the phrases in the title, though. Had to do it with the CEO yesterday, have the deliverable ready to go this morning.

She'd better be happy!

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If I find something is not possible I usually try and explain why I think that is the case, the 50,ft overview, business terms, etc. Definitely avoid geekspeek. Sometimes it is possible but I don't have the time to make it happen, if the business needs it sooner then it's up to the department head to work it out with me and the CEO as to what else gets pushed back.

Setting a timeframe expectation up front usually works for me. If I can't "look into it" until next week I tell them that, if that's a problem then we discuss. We in IT are the experts, but be clear that being the expert doesn't mean you know all there is to know. I use analogies a lot. Same picture can be painted using the auto mechanic and the complexity of modern day cars.

Obvious exceptions - boss, payroll, etc.

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I've also tried to educate people mostly classroom teachers that the same thing applies to tech support as it does to their students; raise your hand, wait your turn, be polite, etc. Since the normal priorities are first in - first out then this in effect lets them determine their place in line. IF they wait a week to submit a work order then they are a week farther away than they were when they made the verbal inquiry.

For the people that use the process work orders can take from a couple of minutes to complete simple AD password problems for students to much longer building a new math lab, etc. I think under-promising and over-delivering is the best way to do things, but not being dishonest about it. Also something that I've had to do at this job that I didn't really before is have a schedule. When people call and ask do you have a minute, I check my schedule before just saying "sure. I say this pretty often I think those are legit statements.

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As it has been said before However, if it's your boss that's telling you not to say that then I would modify what you're saying. As with computers there are more ways than one to skin a cat. I too subscribe to under-promise, over-deliver but I can see how it can be viewed as ambiguous. I know it's "just a chance" and it "probably won't happen that way", but I am constantly suprised in this line of work, so I take nothing for granted. So with that, I stray on the side of caution when giving fix-it timelines to anyone that asks.


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