I frequently ask my clients, prospects, and even friends this question: “Have you ever washed a rental car?” As you can imagine, the reactions are varied, but the answer is always the same, “Never,” to which my next question is, “Why not?” Just like a synchronized chorus, the answer is always, “It is not mine.” Of course, you don’t commit to washing the rental car much less do it, but it does bring up an interesting point.
What is the difference between the rental car and any organization where the employees are not stakeholders in your strategies, plans, goals, and objectives? Too often, these items are created without the input, buy-in, or understanding of the very people that must deliver upon them. Is the company, division, or department you lead a rental car in the eyes of your team? Do you work for an organization where washing the rental car is completely out of the question?
The point I’m driving at is that a person’s sense of ownership is closely linked to their sense of connection and commitment. In other words, if you want to motivate your employees to stop treating their jobs as rental cars, you need to earn their commitment.
To start, let’s agree on a definition of commitment. Commitment is the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc. Earning the commitment of others to “wash the rental car,” or, in other words, “to help you to achieve the organization’s goals,” is simple and complex at the same time. It is simple because there are three steps to earning commitment, and complex because two of these steps can be a bit difficult to execute.
Step 1 – Gain Input
Imagine someone comes to you and asks you to change your priorities and goals. Also, this person does not have a clear idea of where you spend your time, what you experience daily, and the issues you face. How would you respond?
Now let’s shift this picture. That same person comes to you and indicates that they are going to work on the strategy, goals, and priorities for the organization and would like your thoughts on these issues. This person is genuinely curious about what makes your job difficult, ideas you have for improving the company, and the issues you are witnessing with customers and co-workers. They take copious notes, ask clarifying questions, and say thank you. Make it clear to them your goal right now is not the solve the problems as you are doing the same thing with the rest of the teams.
You share everything gathered with the rest of the leadership team who shares their input on the same questions.
Step 2 – Create the Strategy, Goal, or Priority
With all the data you have just collected, deliberate with your leadership team to decide the strategies, priorities, and goals for the company. You break these down to division, department, and functional metrics, initiatives, and action plans.
Step 3 – Communicate
Communicate your decisions using pictures on the wall, town hall, department, and one-on-one meetings. During these communications, identify and address the concerns raised by your people. Based on feedback, there are few modifications to your action plan.
Step 4 – Ask for Commitment
To get a commitment, you must be clear as to what one is committing. Everyone needs to know how they contribute. Make sure that each team member understands where you are heading and why. Provide the following information to each team member:
-The mission of their role in achieving these objectives
-Specific accountabilities and responsibilities relevant to the objectives
-The behaviors you expect
-Clear measures for daily, weekly, and monthly success
Ask clarifying questions to ensure they understand what is expected of them and why. Gauge and address resistance. Ask specifically for a commitment to what has been discussed.
Step 5 – Raise Confidence in the Process
“Commitment = Desire + Confidence” from Extreme Project Management by Doug DeCarlo
Show the team that you are committed to these goals and objectives. They must have confidence that you walk the walk. You must do all you can to help them remove obstacles to success. Lastly, you must stick to the plan.
Too often, leaders make daily requests that don’t support the plan. Worse, these new requests become obstacles to working the plan. It creates confusion and lack of confidence in the process. You will not gain commitment if your team does not trust you or the process.
Failure to follow these five steps leads to frustration and mediocrity. At Activate Group, we provide a framework that incorporates these steps into a cohesive system. We help our clients develop better attitudes more rapidly and produce more satisfying results. Our team of experienced coaches help clients set better goals, take more action, make better decisions, and more fully use their natural strengths to gain extraordinary results.
If you wish to explore how we can help you grow and develop a highly-committed team, reach out to us to set up a free 30-minute consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.