In an agile environment, it is no longer enough to simply set a goal or place an order. You are expected to be convincing and credible. You, in turn, ask for self-responsibility and commitment. Particularly in the context of agile and digital, the commitment-conversation is, therefore, a crucial management technique that leads to the desired result and, on the other hand, to a trustful relationship.
Commitment is a mindset and an attitude.
You cannot command your employees to commit. The crucial point is: a commitment is a mutual agreement. It, therefore, requires goal-oriented communication, sometimes even an intensive discussion. Consequently, after a commitment meeting, you can let go and rely on somebody much easier. At the same time, you encourage the personal development of your employees. That’s why, in my view, it is one of the most effective management tools.
Making the promise and fulfilling the promise
In my experience, achieving commitment is more than a shared understanding. It is also a stance: “I promise. You can count on me.”
To achieve commitment, a specific dialogue is required. Only when I have agreed on something on a shared basis, I can then demand it bindingly. Anyone who commits says: “Even if the situation does not completely meet my expectations, even if I do not yet know exactly how I will achieve the goal – I say one-hundred percent ‘yes’ to the task and take full responsibility. You can rely on me”. Hence, a commitment goes a significant step beyond an agreement.
How do I conduct a commitment conversation?
In a commitment-meeting, you are not supposed to just pass on a goal or an assignment top down but clarify specific aspects with your counterpart before he or she can say ‘yes’. Negotiate until both can agree. Otherwise, as Vera Birkenbihl said: “Let’s agree to differ.” and find a fundamentally different way. The central questions are:
- What exactly is the assignment?
- What exactly should be achieved? In what quality? Until when?
- Who takes what kind of responsibility?
- What requirements or framework must be clarified (for example resources)?
The following applies to the manager:
- Challenge and encourage: define your own contribution to creating the conditions for problem-solving or goal attainment: “What else is required to accomplish this task?
- The process of understanding (clarifying, finding solutions, reaching agreement, etc.), at the beginning, as well as in the course, is as decisive as the result! Do not look at what is missing, but at what is possible
- You might want to record the outcome in writing, in a concise, simple form.
- Mutually agree on selective commitment checks on the current status.
The following applies to the employee:
- Always keep your commitments.
- Therefore, give your commitment to goals and tasks that you consider realistic.
- If you fear that you will not be able to reach the goal, it is your responsibility to renegotiate early on.
If you would like to learn more about suitable formats and interventions that support you as a leader in your coaching role, please do not hesitate to contact me.