On board the plane just about to take off for San Diego, the air stewardess briefed the passengers seated in the emergency exit row the instructions to operate the exit. At the end of the briefing, she asked for verbal affirmation from those passengers that they would be willing to take on the responsibility. The commitment doesn’t guaranteed perfect operation of the emergency exit but those passengers are prepared to do their best.
In the workplace, how often do you ask for explicit commitment from your employees? Due to limited resource availability, you assign work to an employee you feel is best suited to do the work. Without the employee commitment, there are three possible outcomes:
- The assignment is a good match of the individual’s skills, preference, and aspiration. The company benefits from excellent results. The individual gains experience and furthers his career.
- The chosen individual is not keen about the assignment though he has the capability to deliver. The company is able to meet deadlines but the result could be mediocre. The individual grudgingly does the work. At the same time, he is seeking exit.
- The assigned task requires skills and knowledge that the individual doesn’t possess but needs to learn on the fly. The company takes a chance. The individual is pressed to deliver. The result could vary wildly, from poor to excellent.
The first scenario is ideal. The third scenario is unpredictable. The middle scenario could be worst as the company might lose a capable employee. Getting a commitment, and hence, a committed employee builds trust. The open dialogue provides the affirmation on expectations despite a less than ideal assignment. Though you might not have the luxury to make everyone happy, you certainly could make good on how you approach the situation. The steps to open an emergency exit could be simple but lives are at risk if the operator doesn’t follow instructions and act promptly.