Have you ever felt powerless wishing you could switch on the commitment switch in your team? Do you feel frustrated not knowing how to get people to commit or take action? Do you worry about employee engagement and how to motivate your team?

You’re not alone. A lack of commitment is becoming an increasingly common issue in the workplace. People are physically there but not fully committed with their heart and soul. This post aims to explore the pillars to create a more committed team and increase team commitment.

The Positive Impact Of Commitment

The impact of a committed team can be the difference between success and failure for a small business.   A committed team is more likely to stay loyal and potentially decrease the high cost of employee turnover. There are many more benefits to investing in commitment.

The level of commitment directly affects your financial bottom line. On average, a committed team is more productive, more innovative, and more invested in the company’s success. A committed team also positively impacts customer satisfaction which creates a positive snowball. Happier customers lead to happier employees, which ultimately leads to higher profitability for the company.

So how do you increase commitment in the workplace?

The Pillars Of Commitment

Commitment is not something you can check off a checklist or evaluate in an interview. It is something that requires more than a good intention on both sides. Like a marriage between two people, it is often not enough to decide to commit. It requires all five foundational pillars described below to form a long-term commitment.

Pillar 1 – Purpose

The foundational pillar of a committed workforce starts with a purpose. Before anything else, you need a shared vision people can believe in. The vision of 1000 songs in your pocket drove Apple to invent the iPod, revolutionizing the music industry. The concept of the biggest river and water power gave Amazon its lure. Google’s idea to collect and organize information on the globe drove it to become one of the most influential workplaces globally.

A vision of profit at all costs does not inspire people into action the same way as a purpose or vision. It might encourage the shareholders and top executives, but the people on the floor who is not benefiting from the gains are not likely to be as inspired or committed.

However, a more meaningful cause glues people to an organization and makes them more willing to weather the storms of growing success.

Pillar 2 – Choice

The next pillar is the pillar of choice. Freedom, after all, is about free will and choice. When someone feels they choose a person or an organization, they are naturally more committed than when they think they have to endure it to meet their basic needs.

When you increase an employee’s autonomy within an organization, you increase their level of commitment. If someone chooses their involvement in a project, they are more likely to own it, and if they are handed a task without any autonomy, they will more likely shift responsibility to their boss if something goes wrong.

Although it is not always possible to give everyone their preferred choice, it is always possible to ask how people would like to contribute to a project, which leads to the next pillar, namely contribution.

Pillar 3 – Contribution

Contribution is about valuing and including each individual’s unique perspective in a given project or task. There are no two people alike on this earth. Not even identical twins are the same. Expecting people to be carbon copies of their predecessors is a recipe for substandard performance and any unused resource or undiscovered talent laying dormant.

Each person has a unique gift that the world needs. It is your role as a leader to discover these unique talents and use them in a way that benefits your project.

The key to commitment is to make everyone feel they are valuable and necessary. People need to believe that their contribution is required to succeed. When people feel like a replaceable commodity, they are less likely to be committed than someone who feels needed.

Pillar 4 – Compatibility

A harsh reality often overlooked is the role of compatibility. Although Human Resources focuses on culture fit, there might not be compatibility in the day-to-day events, even though the more extensive umbrella of culture fits.

Even if you share a vision, choose to be involved and have a unique contribution to add to an organization, if the team members are not compatible in how they work together on the grassroots level, it will slowly but surely erode the strength and commitment of the team.

Compatibility relates to shared values on a practical level. It is not why you do something or what you do or believe in, but how you do it. How you do things can make or break a relationship at work and home.

Suppose part of the team wants to informally huddle to talk about ideas and options a few times a day when the need arises, and another part prefer a more structured and thought-through approach to decision making. In that case, it is bound to lead to conflict or a lack of commitment. Or if the boss calls a weekly progress meeting with everyone in the company. At the same time, half of the people feel it’s a waste of their time, they will be disengaged, and this disengagement will filter through to their daily tasks outside of the meeting, much like poison slowly filters through the entire body.

Pillar 5 – Perseverance

The final pillar of commitment, perseverance, is necessary to keep teams together when the going gets tough, which inevitably will.

A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. – Franklin D. Rooseveldt

No success story is without obstacles and challenges. PayPal, Elon Musk’s first successful enterprise was greatly challenged, and most people didn’t believe electric cars would ever become available mainstream. Yet, Elon Musk didn’t give up on his vision and persevered challenge after challenge.

J.K. Rowling was homeless and a single mother, writing the best seller Harry Potter series on paper in coffee shops and was rejected by most publishers as it wasn’t an existing genre that existed. Her vision and perseverance are what made her try again and again.

Amazon made losses of more than 5 million dollars in its first years. Jeff Bezo’s would convince investors to continue their support year after year, even though it looked impossible that they would ever make a profit. His vision and perseverance ensured the company became the most significant global retailer and made him one of the wealthiest men on the planet.

How To Increase Commitment

When you are faced with a big challenge in business or personal life, you need the commitment to succeed. Without commitment, you are bound to give up before reaching the success you dreamed of.

Commitment can only happen when you have a meaningful purpose people can believe in. You also need to provide adequate choice and autonomy, ensure people have the opportunity to use their unique skillset and be compatible on a foundational level. Finally, it would help if you had perseverance and the belief that your goal is realistic and possible.

Each time you invest in one of these pillars, you will increase your team commitment.   So how do you put this knowledge into practice? Here are three suggestions to get you started.

1. Model Commitment

Values are demonstrated. People don’t do what you say; they do what you do. Each time you interact with co-workers, ask yourself whether what you are doing demonstrates commitment or lack of commitment.

Each time you demonstrate what a committed team looks like, you deposit currency into your trust account. Interest compounds and your commitment will lead to someone else displaying the same values until one day, and the whole team demonstrates the same level of commitment.

2. Provide Meaningful Choices

Even though you have no control over what needs to be done or why you can provide a choice, you can allow people to choose which tasks to work on, a method commonly used in Scrum. The team picks the work for the next iteration from a backlog rather than the manager assigning work to them.

Another way to choose is to break a task into smaller parts and allow each team member to pick a part. They might not select the task, but at least they can choose how they will contribute to the task.

There are many ways to introduce choice, but ultimately it is not about the option but the meaningfulness of choice. Too many choices overwhelm rather than empower, while too restricting decisions can be seen as patronizing and manipulative.

Be sure to have a clear outcome. Add choice to support autonomy, not control.

3. Coaching Questions

No matter your level of influence, you can always use the most valuable tool for change available on earth – asking powerful questions.

When you tell someone to do something, little thinking or autonomy is involved. When, however, you ask someone to do the same thing, they will be more likely to take responsibility and own the job to be done. They will solve problems when blocked, they will be more likely to ask for help when needed, and they will have the ability to apply their unique skills rather than following a set procedure that might not be optimal for them.

Here is a list of 20 powerful questions you can use in your next meeting or conversation. Following the GROW coaching model, ask questions to clarify the outcome and goal. Reflect on the reality and identify the gap between where you want to be and where you currently are. Next, identify possibilities and options before finally identifying achievable and realistic actions to drive commitment one step at a time.

Having read the entire article, how might you become more committed to your goal? What will it take for you to step into your success – whether at home or work?


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With more than 20 years experience in the software development industry, Kate specializes in helping teams get unstuck, communicate better and ultimately be more productive. She believes in efficiency through fun implementing lean, agile and playful design as tools for process improvement and organizational change. Her goal is to create more happy, healthy and whole workplaces where each person thrives and productivity soars.