Change in any form has a destructive streak. “Within organisations change can often weaken work commitment,” says Helene Vermaak from corporate cultural experts The Human Edge. “The key to avoiding the destructive streak that change can leave on an organisation is for the leadership team to build a burning level of job commitment, as soon as possible.”
Change can be used to charge up the organisation because it opens doors to employees’ hearts and minds, that may have stayed locked otherwise. “The secret,” says Vermaak “is to meet people at their point of need.” In order to do this, leaders need to manage the moment, bring what is missing and repair what the change has damaged or destroyed. “Leaders need to move quickly, because high velocity change places heavy demands on organisations and as such they need employees that invest themselves fully in their work and deliver powerful results.”
As Price Pritchett, one of the foremost experts on fast-growth strategies and breakthrough performance and a world-renowned author, warns, “You lose the right to hold people accountable for their performance if you fail to create a flame-worthy environment.” So, how do leaders counter the chilling effects of change and fire up commitment? Vermaak provides the below five key guidelines:
- Be passionate in your job commitment – the first responsibility in managing change is the toughest, this is self-management. People always look to their leaders when they want to take the pulse of an organisation. Commitment climbs when they see passion in the person in charge, it is highly contagious. The more consuming your commitment, the more you draw your employees toward you. As a leader your focus, drive and dedication carry maximum influence over the level of commitment you can expect from others. You set the organisational climate.
- Provide a strong sense of purpose – your job is to justify the struggle and to aim your people toward something special. Give employees a cause, this will energise them and see them putting their hearts into their work. The simple fact is that people don’t care about working for a company – they want to work for a movement. A dry, sterile, commercial goal will not fire up commitment. Employees find it difficult to become emotionally invested in financial objectives, so rather build a cause around a concept, an idea or principle that can inspire them to go beyond their present limits.
- Delegate power to every person – any time employees feel disempowered, commitment is diluted. The purpose here is not to necessarily make employees feel powerful but to keep them from feeling powerless. They need to help their employees believe in their own ability to affect their circumstances and shape their future. Assign clear roles and responsibilities. Ensure that each employee knows exactly who will do what, by when and how the team will follow up and give feedback.
- Assign generous responsibility for results – the secret is to assign employees responsibility for outcomes and to hold them personally accountable for the results. By giving responsibility, commitment grows and it is a positive statement about the amount of trust that is placed in employees. When you give employees responsibility for making changes, they’re more committed to making the changes successfully. They take ownership of their solutions and invest more fully in succeeding.
- Tighten the personal ties that bind – you should take time – make time – to rebuild relationships and psychological safety. Make every person feel like they really matter. See that each one gets to go home at night feeling useful, relevant and significant. Commitment runs at a far higher voltage when team members know and care for each other.
“Performance pays the bills, not loyalty and not morale,” says Vermaak. Commitment works a lot harder than loyalty and gets more done than morale. Commitment energises, empowers, inspires creativity and sees true potential fulfilled.
Vermaak says that commitment is self-nourishing and gives meaning to work, while deepening a person’s self-worth. “Commitment is simply a no-lose proposition. Everybody benefits…but the employee enjoys the richest rewards of all.”