In times of uncertainty, it is vital for companies to develop closer relationships with customers, to get everyone in the organization pulling together, and to make sure that all available talent is put to the best possible use. Underpinning this, the idea of commitment is of central importance.

1.Commitment means giving the best of oneself. Commitment is at root a personal decision, whether at work or at home. It rests on three main ideas: giving the best of oneself, going the extra mile, and not abandoning the situation you find yourself in.

2. Commitment produces results. This was clearly demonstrated in a study carried out by the Corporate Executive Board. People who are highly committed make 57% more effort, outperform by 20% and are 87% less likely to leave a company compared to employees with a lower level of commitment.

3. Commitment is a free decision, not an imposition from above. people are changing jobs less, but does this mean that they are more committed to their companies? Hardly. The fact of the matter is that there are fewer vacancies going and people are more and more afraid of not being able to make ends meet. Although people are sitting at their workstations, this doesn’t mean that their mind is not somewhere else. Commitment is not a duty, it springs from a freely taken decision. This is something which managers should never forget.

4. Emotion, the most powerful ingredient of commitment. A few decades ago, psychologists identified two different types of commitment, rational and emotional. Recent research has shown that changing jobs is related to rational commitment. However, the desire to contribute or to look for another job is also linked to the emotions. When someone isn’t happy they abandon ship, either mentally or physically.

5. Commitment is nurtured. Commitment is not won or created overnight. It takes time to nurture it, yet it is very easy to lose. Why? Commitment is based on trust, and trust is like a glass. Once it’s broken, it’s very difficult to put it back together again without the cracks showing.

6. Commitment is influenced by day-to-day contact. Team leaders are the key to generating commitment. Quite often people do not leave a company, they leave their bosses, especially in Latin countries where the atmosphere at work is an especially important factor. In large companies, commitment is not generated by the pronouncements from head office. It is. however, reinforced in the day-to-day atmosphere at work, in relationships with colleagues and one’s boss, and in the interest produced by the job which one does.

7. Commitment is not eternal. Values change and the job market is much more dynamic than in the past. The consultants McKinsey report that in 1990 the average number of times people changed jobs in their life was two. In 2010 they predict that it will be ten. The challenge for companies is to make sure that while employees stay with them, they are as committed as possible.

8. Commitment starts with the company. If we want employees to be committed, senior management needs to lead by example. It is impossible to expect workers lower down the scale to be committed if management does not set the standard.

9. Last but not least, coherence. The hoary expression “our people are our number one asset” is often flatly contradicted by reality. Without coherence, there is no trust or commitment. In the words of Molière, “All men seem alike when judged by their words; it’s their deeds that set them apart”. In the specific case which concerns us, it is deeds and not good intentions which help to generate commitment.

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