Boss from Hell: Promises, Promises


Sophie, from Singapore, wrote:

“I really like my boss, but she is always making promises and not keeping them. It’s been two years now that she’s been promising me an assistant to help with my workload, but still there’s no one. When I ask her about it, she keeps saying, “Hopefully soon…” What can I do?”

It can be quite frustrating when you have a boss who doesn’t keep his (her) word.

To be fair to bosses everywhere, we really have to first look at the reasons for the broken promises. A lot of times their good intentions can be thwarted by things outside of their control, or by unexpected situations. A lot of times, bosses truly want to do something, but simply can’t – for financial or other reasons. Sometimes, being human, they just forget.

Although making and breaking promises can sometimes appear as manipulative or deceptive behavior, it very rarely is anything quite so nefarious. (It could even be that what you’ve asked for isn’t really such a good idea, and your boss just doesn’t want to hurt your feelings).

When it looks like something your boss has promised you is not going to come to pass, it doesn’t hurt to remind him once, or even twice. After that, though, you want to be careful that you don’t come across as a pest.

The best strategy for revisiting the promise at this point is by coming at it from a different angle. You could put together a simple cost-benefit analysis as to why it’s a good idea. You could ask your boss if there is anything that you might be able to do to help the matter along a little bit. You might even want to find out what the roadblock is, and think of an alternative which might work. The easier you make it for your boss to get things done, the more likely they will happen.

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