10 CEO Tips for Turning “Contribution Into Commitment”

Do you ever have the feeling that some of your team may be contributing but perhaps they are not really committed? This article explores why this may be the case. It also provides 10 CEO tips for turning “contribution into “commitment”.

Firstly, people sometimes confuse significant contribution with significant commitment. A memorable analogy that illustrates the difference is to think of an English breakfast. The chicken contributed; the pig was somewhat more committed!

How can you tell if someone’s really committed? Indicators might include: not satisfied until things “are right”, pro-active rather than re-active, a sense of importance and urgency, a high work ethic, energy and enthusiasm, genuine interest, a “we, not me” attitude, deadlines are hit come what may, going above and beyond the call of duty, focus on results rather than how much effort was/is involved, caring – by word and deed, etc, etc. The management challenge comes when people think they are demonstrating these qualities when in reality, they’re not!

10 CEO tips for turning “contribution into “commitment”
So, how can you raise the level of commitment amongst your team/colleagues? Here are some insights that may help:

  1. Direction – Imagine you’re sat in a car or on a bus or train on a long journey but without any idea where you are going. That feeling is often at the root of a lack of employee commitment. You must make sure everyone knows the direction the company is going in and are happy to be on board.
  2. Objective – Feeling like “a hamster on an exercise wheel” is another cause of lack of commitment. So, check – is everyone clear on “What do we need/want to achieve by when – and why?” People are far more motivated and committed to a known goal. Setting milestones is also key. They keep achievement on track and create multiple opportunities to feel satisfaction during the journey; all increasing commitment. Directors note – an objective of increasing profit by say 10% next year isn’t going to get anyone except the owner or shareholders excited and out of bed each morning! There is so much more to building motivational objectives that everyone can buy-into.
  3. Ownership, responsibility and accountability – Back to the pig and chicken i.e. Who’s contributing or committed? Exactly who, needs to achieve what, by when? For example: Who is responsible for winning new customers – how many, where and by when? What about spotting and developing sales opportunities with new customers? Who is responsible for ensuring delivery of what’s been sold, on time, on budget and to the right quality standards? Etc. Unless these issues are discussed, agreed and confirmed in writing, you will end up with a “contribution culture”. That means whenever something fails to happen as it should, it will always be “SER” – someone else’s responsibility!
  4. Job Description – Incredibly, few people seem to have an up-to-date job description confirming what they are supposed to be doing! How can someone by committed without one? (How can any meaningful appraisal take place either?)
  5. Management – How much management is actually going on? In our experience, often the answer is not much! Perhaps unsurprising as our on-going survey reveals that over 80% of managers have never received any formal management training. The job of a manager exists for one reason – people want and need managing! So, providing your key managers with “the tools to do the job” is essential to ensuring team commitment.
  6. Feedback – Although part of management, we list feedback separately as it’s so essential. What happens when people do things well? Recognition of effort or achievement is vital to maintaining commitment. What happens when people don’t do things well? To maintain commitment, this should be a conversation, not the confrontation that some managers see it as. This is a learned skill through management training.
  7. Culture/Values – Take a long, hard look at your corporate culture/behaviour. Does it honestly reflect the behaviour you want to see in your team? Or, does their behaviour honestly reflect your corporate culture/behaviour? How robust are your corporate culture and values when people are under pressure? Some work here may be required to improve team commitment.
  8. Round Pegs In Round Holes – It was Mark Twain who said, “Don’t try and teach a pig to sing. It’s a waste of your time and it annoys the pig”. If you expect team members to do/achieve things they are fundamentally unsuited to, that’s what you are doing. One tip from our recruitment training is to start by benchmarking the activities and abilities a particular job honestly requires. Then match the person to that job. For example,  skills, qualifications, personality, etc. If not, discuss the gaps and if necessary, re-align responsibilities or, find someone better suited.
  9. Personal Development – Every company will say they are committed to developing their employees. Oh, yeah? So how much was specifically allocated in your company’s budget this year to training/development? What about next year? Your company may have a tick in this box but evidence suggests many say one thing but do another. A key part of generating a high degree of commitment is for people to feel you are investing in developing them and their skills.
  10. Time – Give a bit of your time just to sit down and talk; not about a project or customer, about your team as individuals. How are they feeling? What are they thinking? Is there anything you as a manager or the company could do to help them? What are their hopes, fears, ambitions? How’s the family? Too many executives see employees as just a “resource”. The more your team feel you are genuinely interested in them, the more commitment you are likely to get.

Action Plan
We hope these 10 CEO tips for turning “contribution into “commitment” prove useful. However, they only represent a very small selection of the issues involved and the wide range of ideas and options available. You might though like to explore these three options:

Management Development
Strategic Business Planning
Change Management

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