Promises, Promises… Knowing the Ones Employers Don’t Plan to Keep


Things we are handed and that which we hold on to with trust in our eyes.

The band Naked Eyes had a great song back in the 1980s reflecting on promises. In particular, here’s one salient stanza that many people working can relate to:

“You made me promises promises

Knowing I’d believe

Promises promises

You knew you’d never keep”

So what happens when an employer strings you along with promises of:

  • A promotion.
  • Better pay.
  • More benefits.
  • More job growth.
  • More opportunity.
  • More responsibility.
  • New direction.
  • Training.
  • Mentoring.

Getting rid of a disruptive staff member.

Well, that’s a start, anyway.

But it’s a tired old tune in the workplace. Promises, that is.

Some employers actually do follow through on promises. These are the companies driven by people with integrity.

Unfortunately, for a lot of people, they are promised the world.

“If you do this, then the future reward will be _______.”

Then the future comes and goes, and you are still stuck right there at that starting position with no promises being fulfilled.

So what’s a frustrated employee to do?

You do have a couple of options.

Giving an employer the benefit of the doubt, you could opt to gently remind them of the promise they made.

Not rub their nose in it, but truth be told, sometimes they are being pulled in so many directions that they don’t have your interests / needs front and center.

That’s where the reminder comes in.

Other times, the employer doesn’t care about you. They make empty promises that they know that they will never keep.

Mainly, bosses say anything to get you out of their hair and make you go away for a while. Their hope is that you’ll forget too, and this request will become a non-issue.

And that’s a critical management failure right there.

Once you’ve reached that stage, then you KNOW what the answer is… move on.

Great employers invest in their employees, follow through on their promises, and encourage greatness.

Bad employers push you aside and see you as disposable.

“If you don’t like it, leave,” is the attitude. “We’ll find another qualified person somewhere else.”

That right there, my friend, is your invitation to leave.

And leave you must.

If promises don’t pan out (give or take some wiggle room to account for economic conditions or internal restructuring / new managers), then don’t wait and hope for them to come to fruition under a cloud of frustration.

Channel your energy into finding another opportunity that appreciates the assets you bring to the table.

And then make it happen.

Your best guarantee for having a promise become fulfilled is championing your own career.