All Posts, Interpersonal Skills, (3) Comments

Under Promise + Over Deliver = Success

Submitted by Ethan

overdeliverIf, as an assistant or intern, you are able to under promise but then over deliver on any task or project presented to you, you will be a success in your boss’ eyes.

This concept is simple at first glance but much harder to pull off in real-world work situations. You see, your boss always will ask for the world and you are there to give it to them… that’s just the way it is. When you have an assistant yourself, you’ll be the one getting the world but that discussion is for another post.

For now, we’ll explain our advice on how to under promise but then over deliver for your boss.

Following through on this equation, the first step is to communicate properly the obstacles that are in the way of getting what your boss wants… an example might be that the afternoon flight from NYC to LA is always booked in business and first class so getting one of those seats might be difficult when making a reservation two days before the trip. You need to communicate any facts like this to your boss so they realize that it will be an uphill climb to get that first class seat (or whatever it is that they’re asking for).

The second step is to find the first class seat. In the example above this could be accomplished by checking all three NYC airports for flights instead of just your boss’ preferred airport, La Guardia, AND you can have the flight agent search other airlines that your boss might prefer less but if there’s a first class seat, they’ll take it. When all else fails, you can take a look at your boss’ schedule to see if things can be moved around to accommodate an open first class seat at a less desirable time. Lastly, if you back is really against the wall, wait-list your boss in first AND business class on their preferred flight and keep your fingers crossed that one of those seats clear.

All of these tactics are a bit of outside the box thinking and that’s the whole point. The average assistant would not outline to their boss the difficulty of fulfilling their request and when they run into one road block in completing that task say that it’s not possible. You, on the other hand, set expectations properly and then use all of your skills and ideas to get the request filled.

Thanks to Network Performance Daily for the pic; they believe in under promising and over delivering in their customer satifaction so much that they wrote it on their wall… literally.



#1. Posted by RJ

Ethan - wise words indeed. The under promise / over deliver mantra is something that anybody wishing for success in their career should master. I remember a mentor of mine warning me that if I promised to perform 100 tasks but only managed to complete 50, then I would be less successful than the person who promised 10 and completed them all. Productivity is important but is always a poor second to reliability. People need to trust that you will get them what you promise and what they need.

#2. Posted by Ethan Bull

Excellent point RJ… reliability leads to trust which leads to being indispensable. Thanks for the comment.

#3. Posted by yssa keyes

Work on job responsibilities and you will be successful person. Nice content.





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