Leadership / 03.24.21
How to Build Employee Commitment
Employee commitment is a powerful advantage for your business and clients, and it’s also of great benefit to your employees’ long-term success. Employee commitment is also a multiplier of productivity, creativity, loyalty and so much more. The beauty is that people like you and me like to commit; committing makes us feel part of something important. But we will not commit if we feel we are being neglected, taken advantage of, abused, excluded, underappreciated or lied to. (I am sure you can think of others to add to this list.)
I recently shared articles on INTIX Access about why trust matters and the importance of healthy conflict. If you have had the chance to read them, you have a good sense of how important a trustworthy team is. But there is more that trust and healthy conflict offer; they are essential to building employee commitment.
What Do I Mean by Commitment?
An example of commitment is when people add their voice to a conversation or brainstorming meeting and their voice is respected and considered. Even if their idea did not make it into the final decision, because their voice was respected and valued during the process, they begin to fully invest (commit) to the decision the team made. This demonstrates a strong corporate culture dedicated to trust and healthy conflict, which leads to building employee commitment at work.
There are many ways to building employee commitment. You could offer a new parent more autonomy and flexibility with their schedule. Or you can invest in them by sending them to conferences like INTIX where they will spend days immersing themselves in valuable learning opportunities, networking events, and chances to speak with industry experts and suppliers. Further down in this article, I have listed five more top intrinsic motivators leaders can use to build employee commitment.
The important thing is that studies prove a direct and measurable link between commitment and employee performance factors like transparency, creativity, productivity, work quality and turnover. For example, when employee commitment is high, turnover is almost always low, while transparency, creativity, productivity and quality of work are high. When employee commitment is low, turnover is almost always high, while most other measurement criteria are low.
Not surprising, without commitment, the success of every project is in jeopardy.
Diving Deeper Into How to Build Commitment
Let’s not discuss the myth of job security in today’s economy. And even though getting paid a fair wage is important, money is no longer a good motivator. Money and the hope of a raise 12 months from now have a poor track record of inspiring most people to do more than what is required to get a “meets expectations” at their next annual review. Even bonuses quickly become expected and turn into what is called a “hygiene motivator” (without it, you wouldn’t be able to attract new employees, and current employees would stop showing up). If you do not agree, try eliminating bonuses and just watch your employee turnover increase exponentially while performance and employee morale drop like a stone. But all hope of building commitment is not lost; there are far more effective (and virtually free) motivators known as “intrinsic motivators.”
I introduce the top 10 motivators in my leadership training courses, but for the purpose of this article, let me share the following top five intrinsic motivators that brilliantly build commitment and workplace excellence:
- Being respected and valued at work
- Doing interesting and challenging work
- Professional development/opportunities
- Achieving something/doing something important
- Being given greater responsibility
Take a moment to let it sink in that “being respected and valued at work” is frequently rated the No. 1 motivator. This is no surprise because everyone, no matter what work they do or how long they have been working, wants to be respected and valued. You know this is true because I am certain this is one of your key motivators.
Being respected and valued also ties into a basic human need to be “seen” and “included” — to have our voices heard. It is our inborn and intrinsic desire to matter; we all want to make a difference. When you think of it, being respected and valued fits perfectly into any organization’s plan to improve diversity, equity, inclusion and access (DEI&A). Because intrinsic motivators are so important, let’s look at how both leaders and employees can use them to drive personal and professional success:
- As a leader, I believe one of our most important jobs is to learn and to be curious about which intrinsic motivators inspire each member of our team. Remember, people are individuals, and everyone will be motivated by different things at different intensities. One person may be motivated by doing interesting and challenging work, while another is motivated by professional development/opportunities.
- As an employee, I believe one of our most important jobs is to determine which motivators are most important to us and to then share that information with our leader to help our leader (and, frankly, other members of our team) inspire us. For example, perhaps you want greater responsibility and professional development opportunities because you want your career to grow. If that is you, then make sure your leader knows and does not have to guess at what your future ambitions are and how to help you. If you do not, they may you are content with your position and the work you are doing will keep you inspired and committed to excellence.
Live the Company Values
As important as motivation is to cultivate commitment, leaders must also demonstrate integrity. One of the easiest ways I have found to do that is to live the company values. Two of the most important values that demonstrate how a leader can build commitment are:
- Trust and be trustworthy (to be dependable)
- Show respect (by giving everyone the opportunity to share ideas)
I believe these values (which are part of almost every organizations core value set) have a symbiotic relationship; you either have both or you have neither. For example, if an employee does not trust their leader, they will never freely share their ideas.
For me, one other element is needed to cultivate commitment within a team. I have always found it important to create a workspace culture that helps employees learn about each other and from each other. I believe this familiarity reinforces the idea that we all have something to say and something to learn. Many professionals recommend activities that help employees discover what they have in common. I like those, but what I like even more are activities that help employees learn what is different/unique about each other. I believe learning what is different and unique helps everyone understand each other’s contribution potential.
Building commitment at work is not always easy, but it is a priority of every successful leader I know. A conscious decision to build employee commitment really does make a difference. I have seen mediocre teams transform into high-performing teams in months when they got a new leader, and I have seen high-performing teams unravel in weeks when they got a poor leader.
Thank you for reading. I will enjoy hearing your comments, feedback and even examples about employee commitment at work.
Bruce Mayhew is a professional development trainer, executive coach and conference speaker who has spoken at a number of INTIX Annual Conferences. Mayhew specializes in soft skills like leadership and new leadership development, motivation skills, generational differences, difficult conversations training, change management, time management and email etiquette. Learn more at www.brucemayhewconsulting.com.
Tags: Leadership , Contributed Content