Decisions are worthless without commitments.
A commitment does not guarantee success or completion of a particular task or goal, but it is significantly more reliable than merely making a decision regarding an issue. Let’s step back for minute and ask this question; How many meetings have you attended where decisions were made but nothing was completed and no one was held accountable? Therefore, decisions are worthless without commitments. The solution to breaking this cycle is to obtain a commitment with every decision.
Obtaining commitment – The simplest way to gain a commitment is to make a request. For example:
- “Can you prepare a PowerPoint on [insert your issue] for our next meeting?”
- “Can you send me a request for [insert your issue] by close of business today?”
Soft request for commitment – In the misguided pursuit of being nice, we often do not make clear requests. Then, we are surprised when our expectations are not met.
For example here are some typical soft requests:
- It would be great if [insert your issue].
- Someone should [insert your issue].
- Do we all agree to [insert your issue]?
- Can you try to [insert your issue]?
- The boss wants [insert your issue].
To avoid these soft requests for commitment, you must formulate your request in the “first person”, using specific language that is directed to a specific person. To ensure that you cover all of the bases, you could consider using SMART commitments that contain these five attributes: Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Realistic; and Time bound (or sensitive).
The issue for which you want to obtain a commitment must be highly specific. It is not specific to say, “It would be great if someone could [insert your issue].” Your commitment requests must be measurable such that you can objectively determine its fulfillment and completion. The request or completion thereof must be attainable.
In other words, the request should be within the scope of the team member’s responsibility and ability. Any request for a commitment should be should be realistic and within the scope to the team member’s responsibilities and authority.
Finally, the commitment request should be time bound with a date certain to be achieved. A well-formed request demands a clear response such as:
Yes, I commit. When the commitment is made, this is an obligation to deliver on your promise
No, I decline. You are not giving the requester the right to hold you accountable. It should be understood that you may not have the option to decline. There are good reasons to declination. A team member may not have the skills or conflict with a previous commitment.
Some examples of vacillations and “weasel words”:
- “I can’t commit yet because”,or
- “I need clarification”, or
- “I need to check”, or
- “I promise to respond by X” or
- “I want to propose an alternative.
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