24 Aug How to gain lasting commitment from your teams
Commitment is dedication to a cause and it’s at the heart of achieving a sustainable change in your organisation’s culture. In other words it’s about really wanting something to happen because it’s important to us – it is something that we value: like avoiding harm and running a profitable, responsible business.
It’s also an essential element of leadership. If you want your team to follow your direction they need to trust you and see that you’re committed to, and truly believe in, the direction in which you’re leading them.
Yet for commitment to mean anything, it needs demonstrating
That might be through giving up time, putting in additional effort or spending a bit of money. Equally, you can demonstrate commitment by showing an interest in people and their work, and explaining the reasons behind your mission. Being prepared to engage with your team, listening to their concerns and giving them a voice is a profound way to show commitment.
Recognising that the most effective form of communication is not through the words that we use but through the behaviour we display, we demonstrate our true commitment to a cause through our actions; our personal behaviours.
When we work with our clients at JOMC, we often hear managers proudly proclaim that they have an open door policy: “come and see me any time!” they say to their employees. That sounds great, but what they fail to recognise is just how hard it can be for someone to ascend to the hallowed ground of the top floor, walk that long corridor (with many other managers looking suspiciously out of their own open doors) and finally run the gauntlet of the protective PA to even reach the open door!
This is a terrifying prospect to some. Yet if these managers were out in the workplace a bit more often, initiating the conversations themselves, they wouldn’t need an open door policy!
Making a commitment is one thing; sticking to it is something else entirely
Just look at the atrocious failure rate of most new year resolutions: 25% of people abandon their resolutions after just 1 week, and 60% don’t even get beyond 6 months.
Writing down your commitment is a strong motivator and really helps you push to the next level. Sharing that commitment with others even more so, particularly if you ask someone to hold you to account. This might be at an individual level but just as valuable as a team, unit or business. This is why a stated and well publicised safety vision is so useful. Putting pen to paper (remember when we used to do that?) also prevents goals from being too vague, it helps give a clarity of purpose.
When we’ve lead a successful safety engagement workshop with our clients we often suggest wrapping up by eliciting a simple commitment: usually to continue to work safely or occasionally committing to adopt any behaviour change that has just been discussed. We don’t need a signature; we just need a few words that seal the deal.
Of course, this verbal assurance provides no tangible guarantee. But it will almost certainly be harder for someone to go back on their word, either by not sticking to the safe behaviour or adopting the change, simply because they have said that they will.
At the very least they’ll be thinking about their commitment and the behaviours recently discussed which, after all, is one of the key outcomes we try to achieve with culture change.