Staff Commitment – 13 Simple Words That Make A Difference


Gaining real staff commitment sometimes seems a major project. It doesn’t have to be. The gurus and the texts make it sound very complicated. Here’s another way of seeing it.

You And Your Staff: The Core Issue

Managing employees boils down to this. It’s a transaction between consenting parties for mutual gain. Staff agree to make their services available to achieve business results. The manager agrees to reward staff satisfactorily when they succeed. That should ensure staff commitment. But does it?

One Small “Hitch”

It all sounds straightforward. But there’s one hitch. Either party can renege on the deal if they believe that the other party isn’t honouring their side of the agreement.

The Real Power

It seems that each party has equal power. Not so. Only one has the power of reward. That person is the manager. Should the manager withdraw payment for staff services, both parties have a problem. But the manager still has the money.

Responsibility Is Not Equal

It seems that each party has an equal responsibility. But because only the manager has the power to reward, the manager should lead by example. Employees take their lead from what the manager does: not what he says.

The Thirteen Simple Words

“What do I need to provide for you so that you can give me …?” These are simple words. But they’re at the heart of the relationship between manager and employee.

The Problem

The problem is as simple as the words: managers rarely sit down with their employees and ask the question. They assume that employees know the answer. Managers tend to talk in broad sweeping generalities instead of specific performance terms. And employees become confused because they’re not sure exactly what’s expected of them.

The Motivation Mystery

Most mangers accept that there’s more to gaining staff commitment than money. The motivation researchers also talk about working conditions, non-salary benefits, a sense of belonging and job satisfaction … whatever that is. Even when all these things are provided employees may still fail to achieve business goals.

More Than Motivation

Put all the formal “motivators” in place and see what happens. They’ll be a great start. But that’s all. What really generates staff commitment are clear goals, definite performance standards and the support systems to enable staff to give you, the manager what you want. That’s how you’ll gain genuine staff commitment.

One Other Thing

Occasionally one small but crucial element eludes managers. They need to define exactly what they expect from employees. That’s the foundation of the transaction from the manager’s side. If you’re not sure about precisely what you expect from employee, they can’t fulfill their side of the deal.


Staff commitment isn’t about a lot of theory. The theory’s important. But it’s what happens daily on the job that will get your people giving their best.

What To Do Now

Speak with an employee you trust to be honest with you. Ask the question starting with the 13 simple words. And keep asking. It could be a revealing conversation.

One Response to Staff Commitment – 13 Simple Words That Make A Difference
  1. Mohamed
    March 17, 2011 | 11:54 pm

    I think that this question is to be directed from the senior management to the project manager

    only without involving the rest of the staff in the first phase & I think the opposite is the

    preferable that the project manager is the one who should ask that question to the senior management

    & if the manager does not know what he needs to finish his project he is not fit enough to be a

    Until the project manger is sure of the size of the support available from the senior management

    to his project he should not talk with his staff because if he talk with them & failed to meet their

    Requests or tell them that he will ask he senior management before he can answer them this will

    shake his image in the eyes of his team will not be able then to impose control over them after that.

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