Why Commitment Is the New Must-Have Quality for Employees

By David Hassell

It’s no secret — committed staff are a hot commodity. Not only are they happier, but they produce better returns and actively pursue opportunities to grow and innovate. If your staff is committed, employee engagement will rise.

It’s all well and good to recruit top talent, a feat often reserved for the most prestigious companies or hard-ass talent hustlers, but what happens after they sign on the dotted line?

Beware of Poachers

The reality for many companies is that the day new talent is hired, recruiters are often actively poaching them, especially if they are sought after. Business writer Bryan Borzykowski has watched the industry shifts, and explains that “as the economy improves and hiring picks up again, studies show that there will be a growing number of workers on the hunt for new jobs – and many willing to succumb to offers at pastures they see as greener.”

Want to keep your team safe from poachers? Start by immediately making them stakeholders in the company. If by the first interview, you were able to determine an alignment of values, getting their full buy-in on the mission, the WHY is step one. Give them benefit of the doubt — you hired them for the skills, experience, energy. Give them a chance to shine.

Knowing they have the freedom to do so will ignite their motivation and drive to perform. Of course, there’s ramp up time, a trial of mutual fit and benefit, but making them feel like stakeholders from day one is the first step towards a long and loyal future.

The next step? Appreciation. Make a regular effort to show appreciation for your staff. Offer your team the opportunity to become invested in the company by taking on new projects, allowing them to make their mark on the organization.

Not only is this form of encouragement quite effective in nurturing employee dedication, it will allow your team to identify new strengths and develop new skills, that will help them grow within your organization.

Lessons from Sheryl Sandberg

In her new book Lean In, Sheryl provides readers with insight into the negotiation process that took place between herself and Mark Zuckerberg around the offer of the position as COO of Facebook. One of Sandberg’s conditions was that her offer be extended from a term of four to five years. She explains that this was beneficial to both her and Facebook, as “it set [Sheryl and Mark] up for a longer-term alignment of interests.”

Sandberg’s story shows the power of creating shared goals to increase employee engagement. When you set shared goals, you send a message to team members that you are in it together, and that company success is their success, as well. It also demonstrates the value of being flexible as a leader when an employee displays a strong commitment.

“The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating — in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around like rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.” – Anne Morris

However, be mindful of fear of long-term commitment on the employee’s end. For some employees, a three to five year contract may be overwhelming. It’s not necessarily a sign of weakness, everyone sees their future differently. One year may be easier to digest than five and for the employer, they can actively monitor the relationship and benefit.

As an employer, you need people that will stick around, but are you ready to scare away the perfect candidate based on your contract length terms? By compromising, in the form of a “fast handshake,” you can mutually say to each other, we’re going to do this together for a year. Then in a year and a day, ask each other if it’s still working and commit to another year. You’re still sharing goals – just over a time period that’s comfortable for everyone involved.

The Rise of Intrapreneurship

Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, but many of us have some entrepreneurial qualities. And, as it turns out — these traits can be highly beneficial in the workplace.

David Armano, Executive VP of Global Innovation and Integration at Edelman, explains that for a long time, you had to choose between being “a faceless corporate cog in the machine of a large, soulless organization, or […] fighting the good fight as a free and independent entrepreneur in charge of his own destiny.” But now, there is a third option: being an intrapreneur.

Armano defines an intrapreneur as “someone who has an entrepreneurial streak in his or her DNA, but chooses to align his or her talents with a large organization in place of creating his or her own.”

Creating a culture of intrapreneurship makes for more committed staff, because they are given opportunities to grow the organization and make a name for themselves by developing new processes, services or products. This creates the feeling that their long term personal success is connected to that of the organization, providing them with powerful motivation to stay with and improve the business.

The #1 Way to Retain Your Stars

So now that you’ve hired them and empowered them — how do you hold on to them?

They key to saving your sanity (and your bank account) from the toll of employee churn is communication.

Think about it, all of the strategies that we’ve discussed come down to open, honest discussion:

  • Poaching…If you want to prevent your top talent from being poached from underneath your nose, your door needs to be open. They need to know that if they are being poached and they are unsure of what to do, that they can come to you and discuss the situation. This allows you to take any necessary counter-measures to encourage them to stay.

  • Shared goals…It was through a candid discussion that Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg came to the realization that their shared goals and vision for the success of Facebook would make them a strong team. It is essential that you make time on a regular basis to check in with team members and discuss their personal and professional goals, and see how you can align them with those of the company.

  • Intrapreneurship…Communication and transparency are essential for intrapreneurship to flourish in an organization. Intrapreneurship carries a degree of risk (as does all innovation!), and employees need to know that they can speak openly about risks that they want to take, and errors that they might make along the way.

Developing a committed team is not rocket science, but it does require you to open up and get real about the fact that your staff are unique individuals with their own career goals and aspirations — that may or may not include you.

But if you can make them feel valued, supported and appreciated, you will not only do wonders for their careers, but for your bottom line, as well.

Image Credit: Dan Moyle

Tell us: Do you have tips on how to keep staff committed? Please share your thoughts below!

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