Commitment to Change

Does commitment really matter?  Last week we were with a group of change agents who were wrestling with this question. During times of change is compliance enough or is commitment required?
Commitment to change matters when you need people to be willing to give their time and energy because they believe.  It’s about going the extra mile.  It is about creativity, innovation and growth.  It’s the difference between showing up and coming prepared to do whatever it takes.
Compliance happens when a person does what he or she is told to do in order to get a reward or avoid facing consequences. As soon as the reward stops or consequences are unenforced, the changed behavior ends. This is the difference between following the letter of the law versus the spirit of the law.
Commitment to change requires capturing the heart and minds of individuals and making sure they are able to make the required changes. When leaders ignore the hearts, minds, or abilities of their followers, the followers will continue to behave in ways they are used to and feel most comfortable.
Tips for Creating Commitment:

• Clear the Path – make sure that systems and processes enable the change and don’t punish people for failure when they are trying to do the right thing.  Forgive negative outcomes of decisions and use them for learning opportunities.

• Create Connection – between each person’s day to day work and the big-picture objectives of the change.  Encourage them to challenge anything that constrains them from contributing to those objectives.

• Communicate Conversationally – to achieve commitment people must understand the WIFM (what’s in it for me) and that happens through conversation.  Well written messages are no substitute for the stickiness of a real conversation that connects a change with a person.

• Commit Youself – to capture the heart, you must believe in the change.  If you don’t believe then you need to work on yourself before you can inspire commitment in others.

You can choose whether compliance or commitment is needed to achieve the outcomes of your change.  There is greater upfront investment of time and energy in commitment but the rewards are longer lasting and ultimately less costly.

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