How to turn people from being compliant to being committed?

In this post, I’m going to cover two main ways to replace your staff compliance with commitment. Sound’s like a complicated task? not necessary.

Almost any startup starts with a commitment environment. Over time, as the company grows, there is a slow shift toward compliant. Over time, like the urban legend about the frog in the hot water, suddenly the organization shifts into compliance.  As the company grows, there is a need to control many people. The best way (according to many people) to achieve this control is to put in place policies, procedures and work instructions. To make people following those corporate guidelines, a new group dedicated to governance is usually born.

A governance group without a mechanism to enforce people to mediate the group findings is a useless group. Therefore, over time there is more pressure from the compliance group, backed up by the managerial group that drives people to be compliant as much as they can. The commitment is gradually replaced with compliance. 

This pressure is growing as the company stops the fast-growing phase and is moving into the “efficiency” area of the organization. In that point of time, compliance also includes regulations about costs and expenses. On top of business guidelines and costs efficient atmosphere, the company started to be more risk-averse, which means more compliance. 

The need to steer people in one direction, cost efficiency and managing risks is real and needs to be addressed. So how can we address all of those needs and return people back to commitment behavior? The simplest way is to reduce the pressure of compliance groups, add responsibilities and expectations to address the compliance risk to people and add clear measurements (metrics) that show their progress. This approach gives the feeling of control back to people while still providing all the needs mentioned above. This approach turns the compliance group more into an advisory group.

Another approach with a more significant impact, but harder to implement, is to reduce central control and move it into groups and individuals. The idea is unnecessary related to removing management or creating a flat organization. There are many shades of grays between central control and distributed control. Everyone can choose what works for them or start from one level of control and make it more distributed over time. Providing any level of self-management to people and self-organization to teams will make people more committed as they will feel like owners. This change shouldn’t impact compliance and governance.

Between the first option and the second option, there are many other options available. You can: 
replace the governance group with near real-time feedback from internal and external groups that will go directly to the groups that need to act to mitigate any risk. 
Efficiency can be sharpened in a certain part of the business and soften in other parts of the business, creating more flexible and better acceptance of the need to be efficient. 
Policies of unlimited vacation time, working from home or training can give people back the feeling of control and increase commitments.

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