August 2010

Shannon Wells

Better Business | by Neil Ducoff


Are You Keeping the Commitments You Make?

Let’s address the fundamental issue that plagues too many salon and spa leaders -- the casual breaking of commitments.

It can be something as innocent as being late for a meeting or forgetting to respond to an employee request, all the way up to the big stuff like not following through on a promised pay review or promotion.

FACT: A broken commitment wrecks trust. In our coaching practice, we consistently find that the root cause of employee turnover, backroom banter, resistance to change and outright distrust of leadership is broken commitments.

Here is a quick checklist to help you stay on top of your commitments:

Stop blaming others for not trusting you. There are always reasons behind the distrust, and it is your responsibility to initiate dialog to discover what you can do to regain that trust.

Think before you commit. If you are casual about making commitments, chances are you fail to keep many of them. Always ask yourself, “Can I really fulfill this commitment to the best of my ability and do so on time?”

Manage what’s on your plate. Learn to recognize when your plate is full and that it’s OK to say, “I can’t take this on right now,” or, “Let’s set a date to discuss how we can get this done.”

View every commitment as a contract. Schedule a meeting -- be there. Promise to call someone back this afternoon -- make that call. Take on a project -- get it done, right and on time. Your reputation is on the line every time you make a commitment.

Manage expectations. Get all the issues and concerns on the table from the start. If you feel the commitment will take longer to fulfill than you would like, say so. If you are stuck, ask for help. If you know you are going to miss a deadline, give advance warning as early as you can -- but don’t make it a habit.

Even the tiniest commitment needs clarity. Before committing, be certain you understand the details, ask questions. Repeat what you believe the commitment to be to ensure that you have it right, clarify first -- commit second.

Be the first to make a broken commitment right. You know when you mess up -- so step up and own it. Nothing deteriorates relationships faster than broken commitments that go unresolved. The passing of time has a way of magnifying emotions and hurt feelings far beyond the offense. Owning your broken commitments doesn’t always make the hurt go away, but acknowledging and apologizing for your mistakes are the right things to do. Doing the right thing is the fastest route to rebuilding trust.

Neil Ducoff is the founder and CEO of Strategies, a business training and coaching salon specializing in the salon and spa industry. Ducoff is the author of Fast Forward, and his new book, No-Compromise Leadership, is available at For a signed copy, go to You can email Neil at