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Would you count moving a meeting from 1:30 to 2:30 as a broken promise?

broken promise

Today Samuel wrote me this question…

“Would you count moving a meeting from 1:30 to 2:30 as a broken promise? I have to do this a lot as nobody respects blocked calendar time in this corporate culture. I want to know if this kind of schedule tuning would be perceived poorly.”

Great question Samuel!
Yes, I think it is a broken promise. The receiver of the promise (your developer) is the person who decides if they feel a promise has been broken, so I they are the best person to answer that question. You might ask them if they feel it was a broken promise.

If they see it as a broken promise, no amount of explanation or rationalizing about why (or how broken) matters. Promises are binary: either they are kept, or they are not. In this case, you scheduled a meeting (“made a commitment”) and couldn’t keep it.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m glad you moved it instead of canceling it. And, I’m glad you just moved it a little bit, instead of by 3-4 days. Those are critical things which show me that you care about keeping your promises.

The real issue: “nobody respects blocked calendar time in this corporate culture.”

True… and false.

You can’t control others behavior.
You can control your behavior.

You can’t control meeting requests.
You can control how you respond, declining meetings that conflict with blocked time.

You can’t control when others don’t respect your blocked calendar time.
You can control whether you respect your own blocked calendar time.

You can’t control when others get upset that you don’t attend meetings.
You can communicate in advance that you won’t attend a meeting because you have a conflict.

You can’t force others to look at your calendar.
You can encourage others to look at your calendar to find open slots.

Each time someone disrespects your blocked schedule, they are saying: What I want is more important than what you want. More important than what you’ve promised your team. More important than what your team needs.

If you don’t respect your blocked calendar time, why should they? When you give in to meetings and constantly bend over backward to accommodate others, you’re reinforcing their bad behavior. They are getting their way, and you’re left to clean up the mess.

Maybe it’s time to say “Sorry, I won’t be attending your meeting due to a conflict. I always keep my calendar up-to-date, so feel free to check my calendar for open time slots.”
And you’ll have to say it multiple times, probably in different ways.

And people may not like to hear it, especially at first.

But soon they will learn that you mean what you say. And they will learn to work within your boundaries. Your team will also gain a new respect for you, and see you like a stronger, more confident leader.

About Marcus Blankenship

Where other technical coaches focus on process or tools, I focus on the human aspects of your Programmer to Manager transition. I help you hire the right people, create the right culture, and setup the right process which achieves your goals. Managing your team isn't something you learned in college. In fact, my clients often tell me "I never prepared for this role, I always focused on doing the work". If you're ready to improve your leadership, process and team, find out how I can help you.

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