Friday, February 12, 2010

Hated Business Term: Reasonable Progress

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I know. The word hate commands a strong emotional response and we tend to navigate away from that in business. Still, there are many "hated" business terms, just go around your office asking for a couple of them from your employees...you may get terms like "touch base, high-level, shelving the idea for now..." what you would probably read in Dilbert comic.

So here's why "reasonable progress" is such an annoying term. How do you define reasonable progress? To an employer or someone on the management end of things, it translates into: "I'll make sure things are happening, but nothing is actually getting DONE."

You see why it's tough for us to negotiate anything based on reasonable progress? I think over the past 2 weeks this term has come up more than 10 times with 10 different individuals which is why I've snapped and had to write about it. I think the term really means nothing because it's so vague. In order for parties to agree to something you need to have it defined. Take for example, if we want to sign up a new partner association, what is defined as reasonable progress?

1) I sent the association an email to their general inbox and I'm crossing my fingers that someone would get back to me.
2) I spoke to the membership manager who said they will connect me to the partnership coordinator who will then connect me to the partnership manager.
3) I waited outside their office and caught the partnership manager and did a 5-minute pitch of our idea.
4) I did the 5-minute pitch and secured a 20 minute meeting with the decision makers Monday of next week with the partnership agreement drafted and ready to be signed.
5) I signed the partnership agreement and have the implementation plan ready to go.

ALL OF THE ABOVE can be made to sound like reasonable progress. The boss always has the end goal in mind, that's what we want to see - the signed partnership agreement. We like seeing progress but at the end of the day if that new account/partner/client isn't signed on and doing business with us, we've only made "reasonable progress", we have not hit our goal. I guess accountability is high on the charts with a tightly-knit business such as PeerFX, where there are few employees, and its transparent who is responsible for what; to throw around the term reasonable progress makes it look like the person is setting themselves up to avoid accountability and to cover their rears.

I'm sure there's another side to this if you're in the employee's seat and see the employee's perspective on this. If that is you, I'd like to hear your comments.

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2 comments:

Lawrence said...

everyone tries to under-promise and over-deliver. that's all. most reasonable ppl would like to reach the goals. under promising takes away the immense pressure during the process as well

Florence said...

Yes - it is precisely taking away the pressure and also lowers the amount of responsibility. From the employer's side it just seems like the person isn't stepping up to the plate. I think it's awesome when people can commit to concrete goals that are measurable.