The role of commitment and engagement in achieving sustained change

What is Commitment?

In the present tense commitment is either a process where we assign ourselves to deliver on something or in the past tense, we have demonstrated a level of application and accountability to get something done. One dictionary definition is “the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause or activity”. That should give us a flavour. In terms of the business environs this has a direct relationship to the outcome on the assumption that those delivering are aligned to the task and are competent.

What is engagement?

This is the process which we as leaders follow to connect with our staff in a way that will motivate them to deliver on the objective.  It has both a transactional element and an emotional element. Those who are considered good at engagement can use both the “left” and “right” sides of their brains to fully connect with their teams.  Those who are fully engaged go beyond a basic connection and have a trusting relationship with those who they relate to.

Why does engagement lead to commitment?

It may look as though there is an obvious answer to this question. How can you be committed to an organisation, cause, assignment or other without being engaged?  It is possible because some staff can be committed as they are driven by their own knowledge, values, and beliefs.  A better question might be, “Are your staff fully engaged to maximise their commitment”?

The reason we raise this is because quite often employees or team members are challenged rightly or wrongly on their levels of commitment to a piece of work when they perceive themselves as fully committed.  It will be a moot point on whether they are, or not, and will be down to the team leader or manager to make a judgment.  It could be related to the way we measure commitment and engagement, and we may be stifled by our own paradigms around the visual signs.

It is a common mistake to assume that commitment is just from the employees and that if you “Engage” as a leadership team you will illicit commitment automatically for the reasons mentioned above. In fact, it is more important that leaders are both committed and seen to be committed.

How can high levels of commitment and engagement be sustained?

There are several factors that influence sustainability in this area. Some of these may seem obvious, but most of them can be categorised under the auspices of classic change management models. If we take as an example the 8-Stage Model developed by John P Kotter[1] you will see that all these stages require both commitment and engagement, founded on strong and effective communication.

  • Establishing a Sense of Urgency
  • Creating a Guiding Coalition
  • Developing a Vision & Strategy
  • Communicating the Change Vision
  • Empowering Broad-Based Action
  • Generating Short-Term Wins
  • Consolidating Gains & Producing More Change
  • Anchoring New Approaches in the Culture

If we look at each of these 8-stages they all require both commitment and engagement to varying degrees or on a sliding scale. Put another way none of these will work without both engagement and commitment. If we pick out a few as examples, then a founder, entrepreneur, senior leader will have to engage effectively with his or her primary team to create a guiding coalition at the early stages.  That will be very much about engagement initially and getting the team commitment in a way that makes them advocates for the change. This will also be required for empowering broad-based action. You cannot delegate and empower without engaging and gaining commitment first.

All this is underpinned by effective communication. An easy thing to say, but less easy to do. This is an area where we have seen clients get it wrong.  Both the quality and cadence of communication is critical.  It is easy to fall into the trap of over communicating and run the risk of disengaging staff, and the natural corollary to that is the subsequent reduction in commitment.

Sustaining the Gains

Using a change management model will help sustain the gains as it provides structure. The key point here is about clarity. Following a defined model such as Jick, Kotter or ADKAR® helps because the structure provides clarity and framework for those involved in the change.  There is the adage about “eating the elephant”, it is easier when it is in steak size pieces. Many organisations initiate change programmes, but these fail early on for several reasons. Poor commitment and engagement are often cited as reasons for these failures. Commitment and engagement be both “enablers” and “accelerators” for change management success.

In our experience, one of the most important factors to sustaining the gains and maintaining the “change momentum” is authentic leadership. Authenticity goes deeper than building trust. It is about consistency of purpose and transparency. It is necessarily about consistent actions because they may have to change throughout the process. However, there is a difference between changing actions and tactical moves to meet the programme need and regular strategic shifts, which will have a negative effect.  Leaders who are not authentic can be easily noticed, and that will erode both commitment and engagement over time.

Aspire2BLean and Blackmore Four offer expertise in organisational change management that is context-rich and outcome-oriented.  Our companies work in partnership where our combined perspectives work to integrate people and process solutions to deliver performance, growth, agility, productivity and effectiveness.

[1] 8-Step Change Management Model as discussed in his book “Leading Change” 2012

 

What are the blocks stopping your organisation being efficient / effective?

Before we delve into the blocks that could be stopping your organising to its full potential, we need to understand the difference between organisational effectiveness and organisational efficiency. In simple terms the first, can be described as the “what” an organisation delivers Continue reading “What are the blocks stopping your organisation being efficient / effective?”

Why I Coach for Change & Productivity?

As well as being a productivity specialist, I am a professional coach. So why am I blogging about this ? It may sound obvious, as working through a change process can be one of the most demanding activities that staff and leaders get involved with. Coaching is a widely used term, and sometimes misunderstood. It is often confused with consulting and mentoring. Coaching is a clearly defined process of high-end Continue reading “Why I Coach for Change & Productivity?”

Getting Clearer on Productivity

operator bending metal sheet by sheet bending machine, cnc control metal sheet bending machine, high precision and high accuracy metal sheet bending machine

 

The Brexit position has become more uncertain and business confidence dropped further, even though the UK is still outperforming other EU nations such as Italy and Germany in terms of growth. This vindicates more than ever the need for a “Lean” approach with businesses more agility in the market place. Continue reading “Getting Clearer on Productivity”

Productivity Inhibits Curiosity

In the line of work I do, there is a constant drive for productivity and efficiency. This clearly has its benefits, but it can be a hidden hindrance. As we rush to clear our job lists, key activities and work to have impact with our strategic goals, we have very little time to step back. This may sound obvious, and the principles of effective time management are well established, but what are the unintended consequences of this “hurried” or “rushed” state we create for ourselves? I use the word “ourselves” because even though our plates are filled by others, we have the power to control our environs.  Continue reading “Productivity Inhibits Curiosity”

Bureaucracy – Fighting the “Waste” where appropriate.

There was a very interesting article in this months HBR by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini titled “The End of Bureaucracy” with an interesting example of how a Chinese company Haier, has adopted a very interesting business model to make it more efficient and agile in the market place. They have adopted the concept of ME (Microenterprises), whereby there are over 4000, each with 10-15 employees that serve the company both internally and externally. Continue reading “Bureaucracy – Fighting the “Waste” where appropriate.”

The Difference Between Performing Organisations & Great Ones

I am always amazed at what improvement potential there is for organisations, even profitable and well established ones. There is a perception that they are well down their “Lean” Journey, and that they have made significant improvements, whether it be through technology or process development. Organisations are rarely as well developed as they think they are, of course this  breeds complacency. Maintaining the improvement “hunger” is a real challenge in large companies. Continue reading “The Difference Between Performing Organisations & Great Ones”

Super Productive People

I read an interesting  recent article in the Harvard Business Review about highly productive people. It was explaining the typical traits of these. These can range from being able to set stretch goals, showing consistency, maintaining focus, problem solving and may others. In our profession we spend a considerable amount of time working on productive work systems, but less time generally about productive people. Continue reading “Super Productive People”

Different Perspectives on Productivity

There are numerous definitions of productivity, and a significant proportion of them are related to a company’s KPI’s in some form or other. If we take manufacturing as an easy example, these can be visualised as kg/hr , £/month or RFT (Right first Time) if we cover the elements of production, sales and quality. All of these have a direct relationship with the bottom line, and the cost of product made. However KPI’s are also important in the “transactional” environment such as the administration arm of a company, or in say financial services. Processing documents can be  a significant proportion of any process, and errors or tardiness will also negatively effect the bottom line.

This is where an experienced coach/business consultant can help. Ones with significant industry experience in different sectors, can start to build connections on where the losses are.  Continue reading “Different Perspectives on Productivity”

Manufacturers are Gearing Up for the Next Layer of Competitiveness

It sometimes feels as though we have entered a period of total doom and gloom with the global political turmoil, trade tariffs in the US, Brexit discussions etc. However the UK manufacturing sector is a lot more buoyant than the wider public may feel. I was lucky enough to attend two recent UK manufacturing events. At the MTA (Manufacturing Technology Association) annual dinner, the participants were extremely energised about the future opportunities and using technology such as AI to gear up for performance improvements and significantly helping UK manufactured goods. It was a similar story during a recent  visit to the MTC (Manufacture Technology Centre) in Coventry. They are anticipating an upsurge in demand for their services including process support, prototyping and any other advanced manufacturing techniques post Brexit, as the UK will have to be potentially less reliant on non UK suppliers. These are premier manufacturing support hubs /platforms with a consistent message. A similar message was coming from another recent consultation briefing I attended on freight and logistics for the EA region. There is a shortfall in skilled labour to support these activities and companies in the supply chain sector are also clamouring, like the manufacturing sector, for more relevant training and education, both in the colleges and the universities. There was a sense that the new Apprenticeship Level Degree might go some way to meeting these needs, and both educationalists and employers in the room felt that “Necessity is the Mother of Invention”.

Reverting back to the current global volatility, this the opportunity to re-think everything, both manufacturing itself and related education to meet the demands of the future. This is now the next incarnation of  “Lean Thinking”, and requires the relentless pursuit of waste elimination, employee engagement, collaboration and challenging behaviours.  There is a new programme, National Manufacturing Competitiveness Levels (NMCL), created by the Government-sponsored Automotive Council and Aerospace Growth Partnership bodies as well as the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) and Aerospace, Defence, Securities and Space (ADS) trade associations. The purpose is to promote cross-sector learning, and the MTC have also been already facilitating the programmes with shared research, learning and development at the highest end, while respecting individual company IP.

This is a massive opportunity for the UK and, if others countries follow suit, an opportunity for them. Given that a lot of the work that these development hubs do is based on AI and digitisation, this is totally consistent with Industry 4.0 and what is termed as the fourth incarnation of the industrial revolution.