September 29, 2020
Company Culture 24 January 2020
How to Improve Employee Commitment: Be a Career Architect
Neetuabala Raina

While you expect your employees to stay committed, are you doing enough to build your credibility as well? Are you proactively analyzing roles and promotions you can give to your employees so they can grow? Can you proudly say that you are helping to build careers, or have you found that your employees are disengaged and uncommitted?

Katy Goshtasbi founder of Puris Consulting says that the

 “Lack of employee commitment comes from employees not knowing who they are. This leads to employees not being committed to their values and their job/job roles. This puts them in a tailspin of lack of motivation and lack of productivity.”

 How to spot uncommitted employees

When a team or employee starts to lose motivation, you will typically start to notice a few things:

Output: Are you seeing the output from your employees that you expect to see? If not you need to ask yourself why. If you have employees who know who they are and how their work fits into the big picture then they will grow fast into their career. If a team or employee is lagging you will be able to see the lack of motivation through their work.

Conversation: Sometimes, people may simply tell you that they are losing steam. But often you will find that employees are not that open when talking to their leaders. You will have to learn how to read between the lines. Each person is different, and you must hear them out. 

Listen for simple warning phrases. ‘We’re not quite on the same page about this’. ‘We are taking some time to decide on a few things’. There are things to be said about employees who don’t say anything. A team member who stops asking questions and stops trying to figure out where their work will fit in the big picture.

The first initial step in getting your employees committed is to create more opportunities for people to talk to you. Create an environment where your employees can come to any time. Give each employee enough time to share or not share because as a manager you need enough time to read between the lines. Ask yourself ‘What does this person want me to know that they aren’t telling me?’

When you spot uncommitted employees, act. There are a few more tips you can practice in your organization to resolve this issue:


Hire enough of the right people

One of the main components of keeping your employees committed is having the team members they work with engaged and motivated. But, when there are not enough employees or a group of people that don't get along, motivation decreases because a team doesn't have the right resources-in particular, the human resources to accomplish the goal. It will feel like an impossible task to stay focused and committed. 

Another problem that arises is the friction that comes from people who don’t trust each other. Hiring the right people who can respect the skill sets of others will go far and be able to not only build the company but build those around them. 

If, however, heads are butting early on in team or partnership dynamics then we suggest giving it time. In many cases, people simply need a little time to find their rhythm. Put people into situations where they must come together and solve a problem. 

But, there will be times where people just cannot get along. To get ahead of this problem try holding regular hackathons or challenges and see which pairs of people naturally work together.  All employee dynamics are an important consideration when putting together teams. Candidly discuss with your managers or team leaders about who will be best for what team. Employees will be more committed and focused on their team and their work.

Once a team is in the habit of giving up ownership, it’s difficult for them to stay committed. Teach your team not to look to you for decisions. Fostering self-sufficiency in your team takes practice and patience. It may be easier and faster to make all the calls yourself and move on but resist the urge. People who make decisions feel that they are part of something. They will be more motivated to keep going and making decisions because they benefit from the results.


Goals

Once people feel that they have a sense of ownership over their work, they will need clear goals to sustain the commitment.  Allison Dunn CEO of Deliberate Directions shares her experience when it comes to goals:

“In my experience managing marketing and engineering teams, the biggest culprit for lack of employee commitment is lack of employee alignment. When people's individual goals are not aligned with the company's goals, you're not going to see commitment.”

 The best goals are measurable, challenging to achieve but attainable. A quick way to set these types of goals is to agree on a goal that shows the team or company’s progress and measurement of the project. There needs to be a balance because metrics can quickly go from motivating to frustrating.

It is also important to lay out realistic long-term growth plans and career pathways with employees so that they can accurately know what is in store for them as they work for you. Talk with them about their expectations and what they hope to obtain from working with your company. 

Establish milestones and rewards using this feedback so that they have a part in creating the goals and will be more invested in achieving them. Learning to build this career pathway together with employees is an important part in your role as a career architect.


Impulsive Hiring leads to Firing

You may be impulsive in certain areas of the recruiting process but refrain from impulsive hiring. This does damage even before your first step toward building a career. Would it not be a wiser decision to delay hiring by a week or so to make sure the candidates are a good fit who is able to fulfill the job responsibilities than wondering what to do with a hire who was hired impulsively?

Besides increasing your operative cost and creating negative perceptions, your hired talent will feel insecure and have a hard time fitting into the company before even starting to work. A lot of mental and emotional bandwidth is wasted in dealing with the consequences. Make sure you control impulsive hiring by writing a clear job description and properly confirming that the candidate has the necessary skills and attitude to fulfill the role.


Prevent Job Burnout 

Your key talents are the ones who suffer the most owing to burnouts! While you may think you are throwing challenging assignments to them, do not exploit their bandwidth to extract more results. Only when you enable them by providing timely support to move upward, will they display discretionary efforts to help you build and create a strong customer base for high delivery margins.  

High performers themselves are partly to be blamed, it’s not the poor performers or the mediocre folks who get asked to do more! You send and get emails from your top performers in the wee hours of the night & morning, and they have so many unused vacation hours. They rise to the occasion and get the job done so well and silently, so you ‘reward’ them with more work. 

One primary reason for burnout and high operative turnover is the inability to build an emotional connection with top employees and understand their motivations or value system. Money will fetch you temporary retention, but if they are emotionally disconnected they will leave you in the pursuit of a nurturing environment. No one is indispensable today, not even CXOs, and they will leave you when you need them the most if they feel cheated. 


Retention has to benefit both the Organization and the Talents retained 

Your approach to retention and development can label you as a “good” or “bad” employer. Do not retain talents just to meet your interim objectives, that’s a selfish outlook that will highlight your company value system in a negative light. If you do not have long-term career visibility for your key talent who wishes to move on, let him/her leave to venture into new areas of identified opportunities. You can lessen the impact of employees leaving key positions with proper succession planning.

Encouraging employees to move on and grow on their own if your company does not have the best opportunities for them to grow will avoid tension you may create by forcing retention of key talent. Who knows? You may want this person to come back in the future for an opportunity for which s/he fits the best! So let such talents be your ambassadors and not unhappy customers when they leave! Should you not be trying to save a career to build it with the right opportunities? 


Do not promote to demote 

Your high potential employees will have aspirations and to meet those, you need not force them into available roles. They must not be pushed into roles to fill in the talent gap for lack of time and resources or just to grab a business opportunity by managing the situation at the cost of a career!

Instead, support and develop them to manage and excel in their current roles on a pathway toward a higher position in your company. Talent must be developed naturally in view of an identified role that they can grow into. 

If they fail to perform due to unrealistic expectations, who is at fault? Are you at fault as YOU pushed them? Do you have a plan-B to save them? If not, such a mindset and approach is detrimental to the culture-building process as it destroys trust and impacts employee engagement visibly.

Real-life experience:

Jesse Silkoff, founder of MyRoofingPal had a problem with employee commitment and engagement. He mentions that;

“Employees were cutting corners to get their work done, putting in the bare minimum in terms of effort, and not showing the same attention to quality that they had when we hired them.”

At first, Jesse thought that the lack of motivation was coming from a decrease of focus that happens when employees are settling in. But once he started to evaluate his employees he was getting feedback, letting him know what was actually happening. He found that:

 “They didn't feel like they had a stake in what was happening. They were given a task, but no real explanation for why that task mattered, and no incentive for doing it beyond their standard pay. In their opinion, it didn't matter whether the job was done decently or exceptionally – they had the same chance for promotions and salary increases either way.”

Jesse wanted to change things quickly so that his employees knew the value they brought to the customers and company. He states:

 “I started giving feedback more often with informal reviews, letting them know not just when they missed the mark, but when they exceeded it. I also looked at offering incentives like raises, commissions, non-monetary compensation, and even a stake in the company for senior employees who'd proven themselves. We're still in the process of implementing these things long term, but so far my team members have been far more engaged and committed to their projects, and they've been recognized and rewarded accordingly.”

Take Away

When motivation and commitment slips, your company falls. It’s important to do all that you can do as a manager to keep your employees engaged and happy. When you put effort into your employees, you find that they will put effort into their work.

While you proclaim that your employees have a pivotal role in building your organization, it is important to recognize that your employees also have aspirations and are working hard to build their careers! Growth is a two-way process today, your key talents will stay committed and work hard if you contribute to their career as well.  

Employees and the employer, both must enhance the performance of each other. So, are you saving careers to build those? Are you a Career Architect? For more ways to build careers and improve your employee growth, schedule a call with one of our specialists today.