Results and productivity are higher when people are committed to their work, and higher levels of commitment or engagement increase job satisfaction, safety performance and focus, while reducing on-the-job stress and turnover. But how does a new leader increase employees’ commitment? Isn’t that something employees have to do for themselves? Actually, both you and employees play an important role.
It’s starts with you building accountability among employees and encouraging them to take ownership of problem solving, generating ideas, and reaching both personal and organizational goals.
Here is an eight-step process that will help boost accountability among your employees:
- State your intention (sometimes). Most of the time it is a good idea to tell people what you are doing. “I want your input and ideas before we go any further. While I have some ideas, I want to hear yours too.”
- Be prepared. Don’t shoot from the hip. Think about the goals or ideas beforehand. You have a valid and valuable perspective, so be ready to share your insights when the time is right.
- Give context, not opinions. Your perspective is important. Set the stage, talk about boundaries (if they exist), and tell people you want to hear their ideas. Context and boundaries will be very helpful, as will clarification of the expectations of the overall process. Even if people don’t like the boundaries you set, it is better to set them than to have people feel like you delivered a “gotcha” when an unstated boundary is crossed.
- Talk about why. This relates to context, but is so important it must be singled out. Help people understand why the ideas are necessary. Help them see the value in the effort and their ideas. When people agree with the why, ownership is heightened significantly.
- Ask for their input. Get their ideas. Write them down. Show them you value those ideas. Ask follow up and clarifying questions, not questions that are seen as critical or belittling. People won’t argue with their own input, and having their input heard is the first step toward gaining their commitment and responsibility for a new plan.
- Stop talking and listen. I’m guessing this is the behavior you must work on most. Once you have asked for ideas, you must close your mouth and listen. Don’t add your ideas. Don’t agree with some and ignore others. Too many leaders talk too much in too many settings. Resist the urge always, especially when you want to build commitment and ownership.
- Think “and,” not “but.” When you follow up someone’s idea with a “but,” you squash their ideas and prevent them from offering more feedback. The idea or plan no longer feels like their own and that undermines their accountability.
- Summarize and add as needed. When the group has exhausted its list of ideas and you have prompted them again, only then should you comment. If you have prepared, you may have ideas they haven’t considered. Perhaps as you listen to them, you gained new ideas. Now you can bring them up, while commending the team for participating in a great brainstorming session.
Will those steps guarantee that your team will feel 100% ownership and commitment to the plan you choose? Unfortunately, no. However, when you follow those steps, you significantly increase the engagement, belief and, yes, ownership people feel in the ideas, goals and next steps.
In Bud to Boss, you’ll learn how to successfully set AND reach goals – both for yourself and your team. Learn more here.
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