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That Guy’s Tips for Faking It: Underpromise and Overdeliver April 29, 2009

Posted by That Guy in Tips for Corporate Success, Tips for Faking It, Wasting Time.
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This is the third entry in “That Guy’s Tips for Faking It”, a week’s worth of useful tricks to get out of working too hard while also looking like you’re worth keeping around.

When it Comes to Deadlines, Underpromise and Overdeliver

You’ve probably figured this one out — hell, my boss has made this the watchword of our department — but if you’re not underpromising and overdelivering on your deadlines, then you’re doing it wrong.

See, here’s the thing: you may do great work. You may do fast work. But if you consistently work fast and exceptionally, people are going to set that as the baseline and force you to do even better. You got hired, though, by showing off your very best work. Why should you have to do that all the time? You certainly didn’t do it at your old job.

But you don’t want to do crappy work, either. That’s the fastest way to get canned short of budget cuts or grabbing someone’s ass.

James Doohan as Captain Montgomery Scott

James Doohan as Captain Montgomery Scott

You may remember in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Scotty says “but you dinna have eight weeks, so I’ll do it for ye in two” and Admiral Kirk says, “Mr. Scott, have you always multiplied your repair estimates by a factor of four?”

The answer?

“How did ye think I kept my reputation as a miracle worker?”

Around CorporateSpeak, I’m known as the resident miracle worker — if it needs to be designed fast or well, I pull it off. If it needs to be something new that still conforms to our existing workflows, I’m your man. But I never deliver too soon, even when we’re at the last minute. I always know when the last minute is — and you should too — so that you can deliver about an hour before that. Not only does it give you the reputation as the person who gets it done right and gets it done on time, but it also gives management less time to make changes. And hey, if they do, it’s not your fault the project was late, right?

Be the miracle worker. It keeps people happy about you being there in the first place.

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