Consultation : Gaining Commitment Is Critical

I have just been to talk by leading international management consultant who said that gaining “commitment” was critical function of management in today’s world. Is this true?

Yes I think it is true. If you just go to work to earn money then you’re not really gaining full satisfaction for yourself as human being and your employer is not getting the best value for money.
Commitment happens when you feel you have ownership over what you are doing and can make choices.
Just imagine if you owned your own business. I am sure you would put extra effort in just because it was yours and you would feel good about it even when times were challenging. When we work for other people we don’t necessarily get this feeling and can feel disconnected and restricted to some extent. So commitment is important.
In today’s world there is an escalating shortage of talent due to growing retirement levels and people working overseas. We need to turn our organisations into places where people want to work gladly and enthusiastically so that we attract and retain them. People will want to come and stay if they feel it is worthwhile and interesting being there, and this is “commitment”.
How do we achieve it? significant element is to enable people to make their own decisions which results in the all important sense of ownership. This involves managers learning to delegate effectively and share power. It also involves making sure people are able to get hold of first-class information on how they are doing (personally), and how we are doing (that is the team and the organisation).
This requirement places skills demand on managers who need to develop high-level coaching and communication skills to achieve this effectively.
These skills are not necessarily learnt from traditional management graduate programmes and neither do they always come naturally.
In way management has moved into similar area as parenthood. That is, when people become parents they often comment that they have never been taught how to hand­le this situation. This is now similar for management where the more traditional management training is not necessarily preparing people for the growing needs of power sharing and building commitment in our people.
So yes it is critical. Are we responding adequately – probably not as well as we need to.

We have project that seems to never end. I don’t know what to do to get on top of it. Can you help please?

The ability to effectively manage project to satisfactory conclusion is key attribute of management and an essential part of any manager’s toolkit. It is not unusual for the situation you describe to happen and it can be very confusing and frustrating.
However, there are number of key things to look for when you are trying to understand and deal with this.
Is there project manager appointed to run the project and do they understand it is their job to bring it to an adequate closure? They can’t just allocate roles and actions to people and then assume they will deliver. They have to actively manage the situation and follow through to make sure actions have been completed.
Is there common understanding of what the project is meant to achieve? That is, do the people working on the project have clear picture of what is expected? Does the project’s customer have the same picture?
Time spent up front on tying this down will pay dividends in the latter stages of the project.
An obvious issue is that you need to have the right resources allocated to the project in the form of people, dollars, tools, and time. But has this actually been done properly and documented in the form of plan?
Most importantly, for every project there must be clear definition of what the customer needs for sign-off of completion of the project. This is where most projects fail. Has this been done at the outset for your project?
In answer to your question, if one or more of these key things is missing the project will flounder and will be unlikely to reach satisfactory conclusion. This will give the impression of it going on and on and on and will result in confusion and frustration.

Kevin Gaunt, FNZIM, FAIM, is CEO of NZIM Auckland and has been senior executive with, and consultant to, some of New Zealand’s largest companies.

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