When you have high team member commitment, I can tell you several things about your situation as a leader: you have high retention, strong productivity, high levels of accountability, and your job is a bit easier. Since I’m sure you would like all of those things, I hope I have your attention. Now we realize that team member commitment is important, the question is how do we build it?
Before we get to some specific ideas, there are two types of commitment you might be thinking about: commitment to the team and commitment to the individual work. Both are important – and when people are committed to their work, they are far more likely to be committed to the team and its effort (or it is easier to raise that type of commitment). So even if you are more interested in commitment to the team, starting with personal commitment to the work is the foundation to build from.
First, here is a question:
What are the things that encourage you to be committed to something (including at work)?
If you are like me (and what much research shows), you care about the outcome and want to know that what you are doing is contributing to that outcome. Given that simple starting point, here are three things you can do to help build team member commitment.
- Look for their strengths. Chances are you see some of your team members strengths already. Don’t stop there. Spend time consciously thinking about what they do well and in what situations they excel. Think about how often they use those strengths in their current roles. Think about how you (and they) might be able to further use those strengths in their work. When people can do what they are best at, it builds commitment.
- Understand their interests. Do you know what your team members care about, both at work and outside of it? Certainly, knowing those things can help you build your relationship with your team members, and that effort alone builds commitment. People want to work for a leader who cares enough to get to know them. Beyond this, when we know people’s interests, we can help them see how they fit into the bigger picture of the organization both now and in the future. When people feel known and understood, they are more likely to be committed.
- Know their goals. Do you know what your team members want to accomplish, both at work and outside of it? Do you know their career aspirations? If not, it is time to get to work. Since commitment is driven by goals, how can you help them on the commitment front if you don’t know their goals? People are more committed to work that they see connected to their personal and professional goals.
There is more you can do to influence people to be more committed to both the work and the team. But these three starting points can make a huge difference in the level of team member commitment you find on your team.