10 Ways Managers Maintain Credibility When Higher-ups Reverse Decisions

Promised promotions aren’t happening. Instead of increasing headcount you’re laying off. How can you maintain credibility with your team when upper-management changes decisions?

Your word feels like a promise to your team.

Broken promises corrode credibility.

You maintain credibility in the present. Image of two people shaking hands.

10 practical ways to maintain credibility:

#1. Tell people what YOU are doing.

  1. I submitted paperwork for your promotion.
  2. I gave our proposed budget to my boss.
  3. I explained that we need to increase headcount.

#2. Don’t tell people what you think higher-ups are going to do.

#3. Narrow the audience.

Give information to people who need it, not the whole team. Who needs to know you put someone up for promotion?

#4. Show empathy toward your team and upper management.

Unthinking bobble heads lose credibility. Explain why decisions were changed and express empathy. “It feels disappointing.”

#5. Communicate changes with optimism. “I know it’s disappointing, but we’re going to keep doing our best.”

#6. Speak up for your team. You lose credibility when teams feel like sacrificial lambs.

#7. Don’t minimize challenges. Empty-headed cheering lowers credibility.

#8. Model the way.

The best way to lose credibility is to grant yourself exemptions while holding others accountable.

#9. Build relationships.

#10. Apologize.

Make things right and do differently next time.


  1. Has trajectory. It’s always being validated, gained, or lost.
  2. Opens doors but doesn’t give permission to drift.
  3. Enables people to predict how you will act.

Credible people enjoy opportunities untrustworthy people lose.

You maintain credibility in the present.

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