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Monday, August 20, 2007

Commitment in business and life

I asked these questions on http://www.linledin.com/ and thought I would post some of the answers I received.This is a follow on from a three part post I did on Communication, Commitment, and Control. There was some interesting answers, names are with held,but can be seen on linkedIn

How do you judge your level of commitment to a project?

Can you increase other people’s level of commitment to a project? And if you can how do you go about it?

Let's try a seven-point matrix. Ideally we'd need KPI’S for each of these.

1. Financial reward Does this project make me enough money to satisfy my out-of work priorities? Family? Health? Housing? Tickets to the ball-game? etc

2. Time No matter how much I love what I do, do I still have time for the out-of-work activities that are important to me?

3. Enjoyment Do I actually like what I do? Does it give me a thrill to do it? Am I confident that I can do it well?

4. People Do I like the company of the people I work with? Do they stimulate me, inspire me, motivate me? Can I rely on them to support me and contribute to both my success and the team's?

5. Self-development Do I still learn something new each day? Am I acquiring skills that will help me long into my future career?

6. Recognition and respect Do people know and appreciate what I do? Both inside and outside the project? Will people remember my contribution? Am I making a mark?

7. Freedom If something's not working, do I have the power to change it, or get it changed? Do people listen when I suggest improvements? If I need decisions to be made, will they be made quickly.

I'm sure others could add to the matrix, change things around, suggest how we make everything more objective and measurable. But if your responses to each of the seven points were strongly positive, then it would be difficult to shake you from your commitment. As for others? Well, the starting point would be to create the circumstances that would allow them to respond positively.


Commitment is a two edged sword. Are you asking about the teams commitment to winning or the managements commitment to the team. I have found that commitment is a factor dependent on the actions, not the words, of the management. The commitment of the team is dependent on the management. If the management are perceived by the team to have different objectives to the team and the words of the maagement are just words and not actions then the team becomes disillusioned. I have worked on projects where the management drove the team to work large numbers of hours against horrendous schedules and the teams and the management delivered. I have also worked on projects with similar schedules and pressures and the management spent time on the golf course while the team worked and the schedules where not met. Teams are committed to winning if the coach, the manager and the supporters share the same objectives, if the players find that the objectives of the coach and/or the manger is different to the team then the commitment to win moves to disillusion and failure. I am committed to win if the management are committed to win, irrespective of money, pats on the back or thanks. However if the management do not share the same level of commitment then like the majority I become uncommitted to the project. After 30 years in IT projects I like to see management walk the talk rather than all show and no go. Unfortunately I have found most management are committed to their bonus and have no commitment to the project or the staff. Use and abuse is a common result for many projects, the staff have high levels of commitment and energy at the start and they move to lack of commitment and disillusionment as the true objectives of the management are exposed. You can not increase peoples commitment to a project unless the management are committed to the same objective


Very interesting question and answers. In the early 80’s, I was a project management consultant and used to talk a lot about “commitment.” We used a cycle to show how to build—or eliminate—commitment. The cycle starts with TRUST. If trust exists, OPEN COMMUNICATION is possible. When you have the freedom to communicate openly, you have the ABILITY TO INFLUENCE. In a climate of trust, open communication, and the ability to influence, project team members are willing to offer COMMITMENT. On the other hand, if there is MISTRUST, instantly there is GUARDED COMMUNICATION, and team members feel they have LITTLE ABILITY TO INFLUENCE. The result: NOMINAL or NO COMMITMENT. The project manager can do a lot to promote a “positive climate (the first cycle) by taking actions to establish trust, setting guidelines for communicating, listening to people and acting on their ideas. Conversely, there are some project managers that do a fine job of creating the second cycle, and then wonder why there is no commitment. In recent years I’ve been interested in the research of Gallup related to “ownership,” as noted by a previous poster). Their Q12 items, which in theory are the keys to engagement, offer a clear guideline for building engagement (commitment).

The 12 items: 1. I know what is expected

2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work

3. I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day

4. In the past 7 days I’ve received recognition for doing good work

5. My supervisor or someone at work cares about me as a person

6. Someone at work encourages my development

7. My opinions seem to count

8. The mission of my company makes me feel my job is important 9. My co-workers are committed to doing quality work

10. I have a best friend at work

11. In the past 6 months someone has talked with me about my progress

12. I have opportunities to learn and grow If a project team member can strongly agree with all these statements, chances are he or she is strongly committed to the project (engaged). If there is a lot of disagreement, there is likely little commitment (the individual is disengaged, or in extreme cases “actively disengaged”-- i.e. dangerous).

The 12 items can provide a helpful framework for the project manager (set clear expectations; provide required materials, info, etc; put people into roles where they can use their strengths; provide recognition; etc.). The Gallup stuff is worth checking out.

Slainte Gordon

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