How to Inspire Employee Commitment, Even When You’re Convinced They’re Playing Solitaire All Day

Not compliance – commitment.

Huge difference.

As I learned from The Power of Strategic Commitment:

“Commitment is the innate willingness of people to follow and contribute; compliance is the forced adherence to plans created through manipulation, punishment and coercion.”

That’s the difference between doing the job a delivering the brand.

THE PROBLEM IS: Zero commitment means zero engagement, and zero engagement means zero profits.

Today we’re going to explore seven strategies to help you inspire commitment in the hearts of the people who matter most:1. Start at the top. The reason commitment is improperly installed in most organizations is because it’s treated as policy, not a lifestyle. Unfortunately, that’s not the way commitment works. It’s not something you do – it’s something you embody. And unless it’s a robust strand of the leader’s genetic makeup, people won’t be inspired to follow suit.

That’s what I’ve learned after ten years of wearing a nametag: Commitment is the offspring of values. You really think I’d still be wearing this stupid sticker every day if it weren’t directly glued to my personal constitution? Hell no. But that’s the whole point: When it’s your heart, you don’t need to prove to anyone that you can’t live without it. They simply take the cue from your life.

Therefore, if you want to inspire commitment from the people who matter most, begin by expressing your own. Find your commitment device. And wear it proudly for all to see. Otherwise you may as well be winking in the dark.

Remember: The problem isn’t a fear of commitment – but a failure to communicate that you’re fully committed. How are you cascading your commitment through every level of the organization?

2. Worthwhile trumps importance. Any work can be important. Think about the most meaningless job you ever had in your life – it was probably important to someone. Worthwhile work, on the other hand, covers more emotional territory. It doesn’t just hold importance – it’s has impact. And the fruit of your worthwhile labor becomes a gift to your people.

To achieve that kind of result in your organization, try this: Give people work that demands the best, highest version of themselves. Tap into the wellspring of their unique capability. I promise: They’ll have no choice but to thrust themselves into uncharted waters – remaining fully engaged the whole time. Otherwise, the work you ask them to do becomes nothing more than another line item on their task list.

And I’m not suggesting your company tries to spin people’s work experience into something it’s not. Instead, I challenge you to excavate the worthwhileness of what your people do. Because if you dig deep enough and come up with nothing but “important,” then it’s probably not work that matters in the first place. Do your people see their work as a daily grind to or daring gateway?

3. People are craving for transcendence. If you want your people to show up when they’re exhausted – not just expected – you have to appeal to their fundamental desire for work that has meaning. After all, people engage when they’ve been given permission to flex the muscle of why. And by actively cultivating the purpose driven nature of their work, you provide deeper context for all their effort.

The question you have to ask yourself every day: To what extent are your people anchored in purpose? Because if they’re not, you can expect about as much commitment a kamikaze pilot on his thirty-ninth mission. And I’m not saying purpose is a panacea. But life’s heaviest burden is having nothing to carry.

Look: People want to be in love. Nobody wants to spend a third of her life in an activity that has no meaning. Work should be a place of fulfillment – not sacrifice. Is working for you something to be endured or enjoyed?

4. Flush out the fear. Chronically fearful people don’t commit. And people withdraw allegiance when they feel afraid. According to Dr. Judith Bardwick, author of One Foot Out The Door, fearful people can’t perform at their best because fear destroys the wherewithal to do their best work.

That’s the danger in being known as an emotional time bomb: The people around you disengage, walk on eggshells and burn all their time looking over their shoulder – instead of executing what matters.

If you want your people to stop complying and start committing, begin by taking radical responsibility for your attitude. I’m not suggesting you suppress or ignore your emotions – but stepping away from some of the stress might make communicating with you a more relaxing experience.

Remember: Comfort precedes intimacy and intimacy strengthens commitment. Stop wearing your anger as an accessory. You’re scaring people. What can you control that your people are afraid of?

5. Payment isn’t the panacea. It’s easy to scapegoat lack of commitment on lack of compensation. But as I learned from aforementioned Power of Strategic Commitment, “Giving people more money does nothing but make them wealthier unhappy people.”

Think of it like a bottle of Febreeze: You spray it on smoky clothing when you get home from the bar. The only problem is, the next day all you have is a shirt that smells like Febreeze – and smoke. You didn’t change the fundamental nature of anything; you just put a layer of chemicals over it.

The same goes for inspiring commitment: It’s not for sale. If you really want people to engage wholeheartedly, enable authorship – not just readership. After all, people always commit to what they help create. And they’re always willing to invest in what they truly admire.

But they’ll never experience emotional fulfillment until you enable their passions to remain an integral part of their worklife. That’s the other distinction between compliance and commitment: One is taking a job – the other is undertaking a crusade. Are your people receiving a substantial return on their emotional investment?

6. Understand motivation in today’s workplace. As a leader, you can’t motive people to do anything – all you can do is find people who are already motivated and inspire them to motivate themselves. My suggestion is to delete people’s demotivators first. A few examples come to mind:

Delivering constant criticism, raising your voice, magnifying their mistakes, exhibiting lack of trust, prohibiting any shred of playfulness, making people feel powerless, refusing to recognize success and compensating less for working more.

Then, once you’ve cleared away the crap, here’s the next step: Pinpoint people’s passion and embed that passion into the pavement that leads the way. By finding out what fuels people – you know what to fill the tank with when they start puttering along.

Remember: All motivation is self-motivation. People don’t change just because you want them to – they change because they want to. And because the pain of staying the same outweighs the cost of modifying their behavior. Are your people comfortable exploring their own opportunities for development?

7. Anonymity is bankruptcy. Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder – it makes the mind start to wonder. That’s what happens when you leave people in the dark: They engage in worse case thinking.

Take my parents, for example. If they haven’t heard from me in a few days, they freak out. And a barrage of texts, emails and instant messages come pouring in, asking me if I’m okay. Which I am. But you’ve got to think about it from a parent’s perspective: The way they see it, no news is bad news. And as a son, that’s something I’ve had to work on. Fortunately, I’m learning to be more proactive in volunteering information.

My question is: Are you prolific in your communication?

If not, try this: Instead of hoping people will read your mind and then recommend the decision you’ve already decided on, stop restricting the flow of information. Just talk to people. You’ll turn awkward moments of silence into opportunities for honest conversation.

Also, quicken your response time. And remember that the medium is the message. Because it’s not just what you say, it’s not just how you say it – it’s how quickly you get back to people, and how they feel when they hear it.

That’s the holistic way to look at communication: Content, context, delivery and reception. All four must be attended to. Because in the absence of communication, people will make up their own. Is your anonymity alienating the people who matter most?

REMEMBER: When you inspire commitment to the brand inside the organization, you inspire belief in the brand outside the organization.

That’s when you stop making money and start making history.

How much engagement is your organization hemorrhaging due to weak commitment?

For the list called, “68 Things Employees Never Want to Hear You Say,” send an email to me, and I’ll send you the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

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Six Simple Steps to Help Leaders Earn Encores from Their Internal Audiences

Every leader has an audience.

And, anyone who has an audience wants the same thing: To receive an encore.

It means people want more of you.
It means people offer honor to you.
It means people extend gratitude for you.

Now, along your spectrum of constituents, perhaps the most critical audience you need to blow away is the internal one.

I’m talking about your peeps. Your employees. Your staff. Your team.

These are the people who matter most.

And the organizations that win are the ones who make these people leap out of their seats, spill their popcorn all over the floor and roar until their voices are shot.

Is that how your people receive you?

If not, here’s a list of six secrets for earning an encore from your internal audience:1. Make passion palpable. People want to bring their passions to work. That’s the principal path to experiencing emotional fulfillment. But if you continually require them to compartmentalize every area of their life into convenient little boxes, they may never get the chance to bring their awesomeness to fruition.

What’s more, dismissing people’s passions disengages their hearts and creates a thick wall of resentment. Instead, encourage and challenge people to live out their best thoughts. Give people what they need to get things done for their own lives. And to remain sensitive to people’s personal worlds and legitimate needs.

With that kind of permission, they’re free to pursue personal wholeness no matter what comes their way. And those are the type of people who not only stick around – but they also stick up for the organization when others put it down. What passions are you asking people to put on hold?

2. Give people what they want. Admit it: Employees don’t get excited about maximizing profits or shareholder value. They’re anchored in purpose. Here’s a rapid-fire list of what your people really want:

People want a chance to be themselves openly. Are you making it easy for them to express their personal style?

People want more meaning – not more things to store in their garage. Are you trying to motivate them with material irrelevancies?

People want to be attached to something that’s more than just a commercial enterprise. Are you helping them connect their actions to a larger story?

People want to be missed when they don’t show. Are you giving them a glimpse of the organization would lose if they ceased to exist?

People want to be proud of what they do. Are you helping them become known for their unique contributions?

And lastly, people want to feel secure in expressing the type of workplace they want to be a part of. Are you reminding them what they’re trying to build and why?

Ultimately, organizations that actively cultivate the purpose driven nature of people’s work get encores every time. Are you asking people to take a job or join a crusade?

3. Become an essentialist. I dated a girl who once complained: “Sometimes I get messages and texts from you, but later see the same thing on your Facebook page. And that kind of makes me feel like I’m just another place to update your status.”

Ouch. No wonder we broke up.

Lesson learned: Go beyond making people feel important, valued and needed. Instead, use every opportunity to make them feel essential. Even the most minor touchpoints. As John Maxwell suggested in Leadership Gold, “Carve the time to create the memory.”

After all, the word “essential” derives from the Latin essentia, which means, “essence.” That’s what being an approachable leader is all about: Honoring, loving and acknowledge the essence of another person. And making sure they don’t walk away feeling devalued. Otherwise they start asking themselves, “Why do I even bother talking to him anyway?” How do people experience themselves in relation to you?

4. Fear is the great distracting force. And it impairs people’s ability to sustain loyalty. According to Dr. Judith Bardwick, author of One Foot Out The Door, “Fearful people can’t perform at their best because fear destroys the wherewithal to do their best work.”

If you want to lower the threat level of your environment, let love lead the way. Let embodied humanity own the day. Take Southwest, Airlines for example. Whereas most companies use employees as objects to leverage – they treat employees as people to love. No wonder they’ve been the most profitable airline since the early seventies.

Interestingly, did you know that their stock symbol was “LUV”?

Sounds like a non-threatening workplace to me. That’s how organizations win: When their leaders take radical responsibility for their attitude. And it all depends on what you see when you see things.

Remember: Fear makes people smaller; love makes people larger. If your employees could give your company a hug, would they run across a field with open arms?

5. Create a spirit of openness. Place need a place where they can really say what’s on their minds. Not just their thoughts – their feelings. That’s the input that matters most. And, when you listen to people, stay influenceable and amenable to potential improvement.

After all, being a leader is less about having the right ideas and more about being the right person. Otherwise you morph into Dilbert’s pointy haired boss, who would thoroughly listen to your input, thank you for your suggestions, and then do exactly what he planned all along. Not exactly approachable behavior.

And that’s the very downfall of countless organizations: Their so-called “culture of openness” is superficially stated, not consistently practiced. If you want to earn a encore from your internal audience, give voice to people’s feelings. Because the last thing your department needs is another staff meeting just so people can (not) say what’s on their minds. What type of communication climate do you create around you?

6. Be a flow enabler. Psychology researcher Mihály Csíkszentmihályi defines flow as “an optimum state of intrinsic motivation where you’re fully immersed, your whole being is involved and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

If you want your people to engage in that fashion, consider these suggestions. First, help them identify their territory. That’s the place, arena or activity where the sustenance comes from the act itself – not from the impression it makes on others.

Next, help them recall their high performance patterns. By revisiting past victories, enable them see their gifts and unique capabilities more clearly. And finally, keep them focused on fulfilling their natural potential. This constantly inspires them with a vision of what they can contribute – not just to the organization, but also to their own lives.

Ultimately, by enabling your people to enter into flow, you help them fall in love with themselves, their process and the work that comes out of it. And that’s what allows them to feel enthusiastic about their work experience. What state of being do you inspire?

REMEMBER: Your audience is waiting to be overwhelmed by your performance.

Be human. Be approachable. Be engaging.

And the crowd won’t just go wild – they’ll ask for an encore.

Are your people raising they lighters or texting their kids?

For the list called, “22 Unexpected Ways to Help People,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

The world’s FIRST two-in-one, flip-flop book!

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If You Don’t Build an Audience Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later

You can only talk to yourself for so long.

Eventually, you have to build an audience.

Otherwise, you’re just winking in the dark.

THE COOL PART IS: It’s never been easier to do so.

The technology is available. The access is available. And the energy is available. All you need is a gameplan to leverage your assets to reach the people who matter most.

Whether you sing songs, perform dances, give speeches, publish blogs, pass laws, write books, lead teams or preach sermons on the corner of Grand & Cherokee, here are two lists of strategies to help you build an audience. Thanks to American Express Open Forum for inviting me to contribute:What Smart Companies Know About Customer Engagement

Six Engagement Essentials

REMEMBER: Audiences aren’t accidents.

Whether you’re running for office in your hometown, publishing your thoughts online or performing your art in public, this process requires patience, imagination, creativity, commitment and consistency.

But once you do it, once you find your audience – or, once your audience finds you – I promise: You will never get up out of bed the same way again.

Your tribe is waiting.

Does you brand speak to the brain or the chest?

For the list called, “22 Unexpected Ways to Help People,” send an email to me, and you win the list for free!

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur, Mentor

The world’s FIRST two-in-one, flip-flop book!

Buy Scott’s comprehensive marketing guidebook on and learn how to GET noticed, GET remembered and GET business!

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