For most people, obligations, promises, and commitments are interchangeable. Like promises, commitments are considered a conscious decision to stick with something and follow through. For example, you can commit to buying a home, your marriage, or your job. You can’t back out of those kinds of commitments without consequence.
Looking deeper, there’s another layer to commitment that isn’t a decision, and can only be observed. This deeper level of commitment isn’t something you declare; it’s the results you’re getting. For example, take a business owner who wants to build a successful business, but won’t hire employees because they’re afraid the job won’t get done correctly. They say they want a successful business, but they don’t have it, and they’re not taking action to make it happen. Based on results, they’re not committed to building a successful business; they’re committed to entertaining their fears.
Although common, fears are roadblocks to success, and nobody is immune to experiencing them.
Considering this deeper layer or commitment has the power to elevate your company from the inside out. It creates trust, loyalty, and improves employee performance.
When a decision-maker commits to their position from this deeper perspective, they’re not committing to profits and individual tasks or goals; they’re committing to the success of their teams.
Employees see what you’re committed to regardless of your words
Since actions make commitments visible, employees know when you are and aren’t committed to your role. The biggest sign that tells an employee you’re committed to your role is specifically soliciting negative feedback. Employees are on the front lines of every business. They know what isn’t working, but don’t know if anyone wants to hear about it. You can’t expect them to be completely forthcoming on anonymous company surveys, either.
When you’re in a position to make important decisions, asking for open-ended feedback isn’t enough to show staff you’re committed to your role. They’re going to suppress complaints out of fear. If you want to know what’s not working, you’ve got to specifically ask for the good, the bad, and the ugly. This requires a special kind of conversation where everyone can be authentic and open.
The first place to start asking is your customer service team because they’re the main point of contact for most of your customers. Whether your customer service team follows a script, an outline, or are otherwise bound by strict company rules when interacting with customers, there’s always room for improvement and they know it. If you don’t solicit feedback for what isn’t working, you won’t be able to improve existing systems and structures.
Getting customer service right is an ever-evolving process. According to AnswerFirst, 60% of businesses consider customer service to be one of the most important aspects of creating a successful business. Still, many businesses don’t give much attention to their customer service department.
In-house customer service departments can be prohibitively expensive and cumbersome to manage. If your support team is overwhelmed with the volume of calls, you might need to consider outsourcing to meet company needs. The only way to know is to request feedback regarding what doesn’t work from call agents and anyone else involved in customer service.
Specifically soliciting feedback for what doesn’t work shows staff members you’re committed to your role as a decision-maker. Employees know you need a well-rounded view in order to make informed decisions. Getting that well-rounded view builds trust.
Signs that might tell an employee you’re not committed to your role include:
- Making financial decisions that save the company money but place a large burden on staff. Sometimes tough decisions are necessary due to special circumstances, but not communicating the situation to staff members can make them feel sideswiped. This squashes trust.
- Firing team members without explanation and not hiring a replacement. You’re under no obligation to explain anything to your staff, but when you don’t, it makes employees resent the extra workload they’re given. They don’t know if you’re working on getting a replacement, or if they’ll bear the extra burden forever.
For instance, say one of your department heads quit, and you haven’t begun looking for a replacement because someone stepped in to cover. From your end, this person might appear to have the ability to cover both departments, relieving the pressure to find someone quickly. In reality, that employee might be struggling.
Declared commitments can be misleading
Saying you’re committed to your role in the company isn’t enough. You’ve got to take the actions that get the results employees want to see to know you’re committed to your role. They’re depending on you to make decisions that support them. When that’s what you’re committed to, your team will thrive.
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