Things seemed to be changing quickly. In just a matter of three months, Ben was unexpectedly promoted from Consultant to Manager, Angela was hired and then quit, and now Henry was coming on board.

“So, how’s it going?” Ben's Manager Steve asked.

“Swamped,” Ben replied. “Henry’s started as of last Tuesday and so far seems to be working out pretty well.”

“Great,” Steve responded without knowing that Ben was about to continue.

“It’s nice having another resource around.”

“What?” Steve asked as he looked sharply back at Ben.

“Resource. FTE. It was pretty tough keeping up with the workload after Angela left,” Ben replied not knowing that he inadvertently hit a touchy point with Steve.

“I can’t stand the use of those words – FTE, resources, head count. These are human beings we are talking about. Employees, team members, people. Not FTEs. I think people use those words because it enables them to make decisions without having to take ownership and have the courage to see the people aspect of the equation,” Steve said passionately.

“Okay,” Ben meekly replied.

“Listen, you don’t have to apologize, but I think a major mistake leaders make is that they miss the people side of the equation.”

“What do you mean?” asked Ben.

“Well think about it. If you want to implement a new process, you have to get people on board with the process first. If you want to change the direction of your organization or change the culture, you have to get the people on your team to change first. It’s so easy to slip into looking for technical solutions to our business problems and avoid the people side of the equation. It’s a mistake, Ben,” Steve emphasized.

“I never thought about that.”

“I believe that the most powerful and effective tool we have to implementing our business strategy is our people. We have to put them first. And as part of that, we have to think of them as people and team members and not resources, FTEs, headcount, and non-exempts,” Steve paused for a moment and then said, “Ok, enough about my rant. Give me an update on AccuSave.”

- - -

As a leader, you have the greatest impact on team member commitment and engagement. In most cases, as Steve mentioned to Ben in our story, people leave their managers and not their organizations.

But you can’t build commitment through policies. You can’t create commitment through standard operating procedures. You can’t demand commitment through directives. Commitment comes out of relationship. It is derived from being able to “relate” to people as individuals. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work.

People will respond to you based on how they are treated. Impact people positively and you’ll build commitment. Impact them negatively and you’ll only gain compliance, where they do just enough to get by.

What kind team would you rather build – one that is compliant or committed?

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