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How do you handle a situation where someone backs out of a commitment they made to do some work for you?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from more than 200,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How do you handle a situation where someone backs out of a commitment they made to do some work for you?

  • It doesn't bother me unless it's a huge deliverable that will fail: 23.25%
  • I accept it, don't say anything, but then don't give them work again: 23.25%
  • I express my dissatisfaction, pull the work and don't give them work again: 35.08%
  • I try to hold them to their original commitment and make them back out of others: 18.42%

A variety of ways to deal with missed commitments. There seems to be no clear consensus on how respondents deal with someone backing out of a commitment to deliver work. Some of you aren't bothered, while others directly express dissatisfaction or try to hold to original commitments. The bigger question here is how to make sure you don't end up in this situation in the first place. Some suggestions include understanding their workload fully before asking them to commit and pushing back if it seems like they're overextending themselves. Also, make it clear it's acceptable to ask for assistance and that it's best to do so early in the project rather than later, when it's harder to recover from missed commitments. Finally, establish regular communication to stay on top of progress, and identify risks early so you can act on them sooner.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS, which includes TITAN -- the firm’s e-learning platform. Previously, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a West Point graduate and author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."