Commitment versus Compliance admin February 3, 2020

Commitment versus Compliance

If we collaborate effectively, the result is commitment. Commitment is better than compliance.

Commitment comes from within and is powerful because it is an intrinsic motivator. Compliance, on the other hand, comes from an external source. Compliance is imposed on us. What does it sounds like if we are complying to process or committing to action?

The difference is subtle.

Compliance sounds like: “I can’t check personal emails at work.” Someone else decided you can’t.

Commitment sounds like: “I don’t check personal emails at work” You decided you don’t.

In our new playbook for leaders, commitment is more than a decision. We may make a decision that one course of action is better than another and leave it at that, without action. That is not commitment. Commitment attaches action to the decision. Commitment turns bluework into redwork.

At work, we hear how to “inspire,” “empower,” and “motivate,” people with the hope that they will become active, engaged, and committed to the goals of the organization. This is just coercion in disguise – more of one group of people trying to get another group of people to “do” what has been decided on.

If a person has no choice but to say yes, the result is compliance. Sometimes we want compliance.

We comply with traffic laws and seat belt laws. Compliance and telling people what to do, especially if it means to keep them safe, is not bad or wrong. When compliance and following procedure becomes the guiding star for an organization, disaster is bound to strike. Compliance only requires a person to follow rules, instructions, and actions that someone else has determined. Compliance gives people a pass on thinking and responsibility, hence the phase “I was doing what I was told.”

In the Industrial Age playbook, the comply play worked for the simple, physical, repetitive, individual tasks that could be closely monitored. With compliance, the difference between minimum activity (doing enough to get the job done) and what we could get out of people was pretty small.

Commitment is based on intrinsic motivators and the key is to offer a choice.  Commitment invites full participation, engagement, and discretionary effort. For creative, cognitive, complex thinking tasks, the difference between the bare minimum and what we can do is really big!

Following commit we can immerse ourselves in the redwork until we complete this period of work.

Learn more by watching this Nudge – Leadership Nudge® 294 – Commitment Comes from Within