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What Would You Do With More Commitment at Work?

Commitment at work. Congrats to The Eikenbergs on 50 years!

My parents recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. I’m in awe at that milestone, and the commitment it took on both of their parts to reach it. I’m old enough to know it couldn’t always have been easy.

I started thinking about my own long-term commitments. Other than those with my family and friends, my longest commitment likely has been to work, and everything it takes to make that successful.

Sure, I have long-term commitments to things like getting regular sunshine, choosing Diet Coke (although it’s not an exclusive carbonated relationship), and wearing the same bracelet every day. But those commitments cost me no energy.

But managing my work and career does. And no matter whether you’re beaming or bored at work, you’ve made some kind of commitment to work, too. What it is—and how to get more commitment at work that works for you—is something worth thinking more intentionally about.

What We Really Mean When We Say We Want More Commitment at Work

Let’s be honest. When we talk about commitment at work, we’re usually referring not to our own commitment, but to the commitments we want from other people.

The hunger for more commitment (demonstrated in new behaviors) sounds like this:

  • “I wish he’d show up to meetings on time.”
  • “If she’d only read her email, she’d be in the loop and stop complaining.”
  • “No one in my office ever says thank you, even when I kill myself to get the work done.”
  • “Why won’t that group put aside their individual agendas and work like a team?”
  • “Can you believe our client is putting the work out to bid? Don’t they know what we can do?”

It’s rarely about us.What's your commitment at work? Red Cape Revolution

In fact, in our companies, we experiment with many interventions to increase commitment of others. Ideas like engagement surveys, recognition programs, better compensation and career development are frequently on the to-do lists of your HR department and business leaders to ensure commitment.

The stark reality is that there are more programs and processes to support commitment and its partner, engagement, than ever before.

And yet, is commitment increasing in your organization?

If your answer is yes, I’d love to hear more about what’s working. Email me here.

If your answer is no, then I have a secret for you. You’re looking in the wrong place.

You’re looking at everyone else. But the secret is to increase your own commitment first.

How to Increase Your Own Commitment at Work

Yes, I hear you. You’re busy . . .  there’s a lot on your plate . . . you can’t take on anything else . . . it all makes sense.

But what if you could feel better at work, happier, more productive, more like you and your work mattered? What commitments would you make to get those feelings?

And what if when you felt like that, it changed others’ level of commitment, too?

You can do increase your commitment at work, without any fancy training, tools, or extensive time. Experiment with one of these four commitments as a start.

1. The Commitment to ListenCommitment to listening | Learn more at

You’re smart. You have great ideas. You think fast.

But are you talking more than you’re listening?

Refresh your commitment to shut up, shut up, shut up and create the space and respect to listen—and really hear—the other voices around you.

2. The Commitment to Teach

You’re smart. You have great ideas. You think fast.

How much of that are you teaching, versus telling?

Teaching means remembering to share the entire context of an issue, not just the solution steps. Too many times we think we’ve “taught” when we’ve told, “just do x, y, and z.” But if the student doesn’t fully understand how you got there—the “why,” your assumptions, your experiences and results, etc.–they’ll never absorb the lesson on their own.

3. The Commitment to Be Present

You’re smart. You have great ideas. .  . blah blah. .  . oh, sorry, be back in a moment, just got a text . . . 

You’ve chosen to be where you are (yes, even the meeting that you think is a waste of time—that’s a choice.) So be really be there. Don’t waste your life time zoning through the moment or being distracted by the siren call of the tiny screen in your pocket.

Be committed to be mentally and emotionally available, and you’ll get more about of every situation you’re in.

(For more on this, see our post on Click Less to Connect More here.)

4. The Commitment to Care

Whether you’ve used it at work lately, I know you have a heart, Tin Man.

Care to commit | Red Cape RevolutionEven if you’re frustrated, discouraged, and have a foot out the door, challenge yourself to find something or someone to give a damn about.

Maybe it’s . . .

  • A colleague.
  • A client.
  • A  process that’s broken.
  • Your local professional association.
  • Something or someone who needs more of what you can give.

If you want more commitment from others, try starting with the most important person in your worklife. You.
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