I have spent time lately trying to raise money for different non-profits. It’s a simple process in terms of identifying contacts with whom you have good relationships, describing the benefits of contributing and how it may fit with corporate or personal giving goals. Put a specific amount or product ask out there and that’s pretty much it. Wait, there’s actually one more thing that’s maybe the most important: ask for a commitment by X date.
I wondered recently, why don’t we do the same when it comes to the workplace? I’ve worked on “change management plans” for 20 some years. They are a required accompaniment to any change. The most difficult part of any large-scale change was meaningfully relaying the benefits of the change to people, but the big companies I’ve been a part of are working harder on that.
It’s that commitment part that’s missing, and it’s really powerful. Let’s spend a minute on accountability first. How many times have you seen or heard “accountability” in your place of work? “You need to hold people more accountable.” “We will be more accountable.” “You are not being accountable.”
Accountable to what? What are people committing to? What are you committing to? What did I commit to that I’m suddenly not doing?
Commitment is to accountable as peas are to carrots. You can’t have accountability without commitment. Sales people who deal with a company’s most important asset, its customers, get this.
If you want someone to be accountable, you need to ask for a commitment to something specific. If you want an organization accountable to say, “putting the customer first,” you need to sit down with every single employee and ask for their commitment. Equally important is to get each employee’s response to specifically what that means for them. Literally use those words, “May I get your commitment to putting the customer first? What do you think that looks like for you?” For example, if this were myself in an HR Lead role, my commitment might be to visit with real customers and actively network with external sales talent. It’s very empowering for both you and the employee to go through this exercise.
Making the ask even applies to the most micro level of an organization. For example, project teams can and should discuss specific commitments and accountabilities to each other.
Getting good results comes from everyone understanding where they’re going. We want better than good: start asking for specific commitment to named goals and get great results.