Much of the frustration of everyday life can be traced to false commitments. Bounced checks, late deliveries, shoddy work, unreturned emails, laundered shirts with missing buttons, poor work performance, broken partnerships, and so on – under close examination, all of these involve issues with “commitments” that were made but not kept.
An organizational culture in which people consider their commitments carefully, and in which they absolutely intend to do what they say they will do, generates trust. People can relax into their natural enthusiasm, without fear that they’ll be let down, and feel part of something bigger. When we encourage people to earn trust, and show them how, everybody’s goal becomes the same. That translates into greater commitment, greater creativity, greater satisfaction with work, and better performance.
Many problems with commitment come in the making and not the executing. An effective environment must make adequate accommodation for the serious nature of commitments. We can begin by providing adequate opportunity to weigh commitments in the making, which means honoring doubt in a new way. Doubt is an invitation to examine the proposed commitment. Doubt needs to come out of the closet and into the conference room where it can be visibly present without prejudice. Doubt denied or discouraged will take its revenge later when time, productivity, and trust are lost.