Keys to Employee Engagement: 9. Commitment

So far, in this series, we’ve talked about ensuring employees have a clear idea of what is expected of them and helping them realize that by providing them the tools to do the job right.  Employees can be inspired by the company’s mission, which can give them a strong sense of purpose.

I’ve seen several organizations where the majority of employees are excited about coming to work every day but a few slackers were enough to bring down the mood in the office.  It can be hard to sustain your motivation if your co-workers undermine all the good work you do by not caring.

So the ninth question in Gallup’s Q12 explores this, posing, “Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?”

Commitment, Recruiter, HeadhunterGallup suggests this commitment by fellow workers, along with four other measures is correlated with productivity.  When employees, overall, feel their fellow employees share their commitment to the organization, the productivity of the organization increases.

(The other four measures were: “I know what is expected of me”, “My opinions are valued”, “ I believe in the company’s mission” and “Overall satisfaction”.)

Imagine how it must feel for someone who takes pride in their work and who does an excellent job to hand off their work to someone who drops the ball or is careless how they do their part of the task or project.  Similarly, you’ll find in many companies employees who have to correct others’ mistakes or sloppiness so they can hand off to the next operation.  They must feel constantly frustrated.

From a customer’s point of view, shoddy workmanship usually shows up in defective materials.  They have to call in the sales rep to assess the scope of the problem, segregate defective materials and work out some form of compensation as well as paperwork to return the defective goods.  In a worst case scenario, the customer may have to shut down their line and lay off people – then ask for even more compensation for lost work and possibly lost business.

What can you do about this?

One of the easiest ways to start addressing this is by going out on the shop floor (or office) and talk to the employees one on one to work your way through the process to identify which employee(s) are contributing to the situation.

Improving the calibre of their work may simply be a matter of training them or providing the proper tools to do their task right. It might mean modifying the process (by automation, for example) to remove the human element from affecting the outcome.

If the root cause of the problem is attitude, that is a much harder issue to deal with.  It may mean terminating employees.  In some cases, not getting rid of employees who don’t care about their jobs can be seen by employees as weak management or a demonstration that management doesn’t care or lacks commitment to the company’s mission.  You can risk losing your best employees in this type of situation.  So, sometimes terminating bad employees have a positive overall effect on morale and productivity.

Getting out on the shop floor is one way to demonstrate to employees that management cares about what’s happening in the plant. Speaking with them one on one is one way to show that management cares about employees’ opinions.  Correcting problems in the plant shows employees that management can not only act on their input, but also walk the talk.  In other words, they have enough commitment to the company’s mission to make things work.

Talk is cheap. Action gets results.