Leaders are challenged to influence people at all levels of commitment relative to their projects. While some are not even aware of the need for the project, others might be willing to seriously commit time, talent, and treasure to achieve an end. Rarely does everybody need to be committed at the same level, however most leaders find they need to move people along the commitment continuum so that you can achieve your goals.
Commitment begins by creating a state of connection between you, the leader, and those you want to have join you. It evolves as you come to understand their interests and help them to see how increasing their commitment will improve the chances of them achieving their personal goals. Here are five basic steps that will help you create and deepen your connection with others, increasing their commitment in the process.
Understand What You Want
The process begins with you understanding what you want. What are you trying to achieve? If you cannot articulate what you want, it is hard to get people to commit. So, think carefully and write out your goals and objectives. To be really clear, develop a vision that helps others see how life will be better when the project is accomplished. The clearer the picture, the easier it will be for others to see them in it, and the easier it will be for them to commit to it over time.
Understand Who You Need, and What They Need
Based on your goal, what types of people need to participate? Do you need specific skills to complete a task? Do you need customers who will enthusiastically use and recommend your product or service? Take time to understand the roles people will play in your project and understand what types of people they are. Now, take a moment to understand what those people need. Why would they want to join forces with you? What are they trying to achieve in their own lives? If you can link your project to their needs, you will be able to connect with them when you meet them. And with connection the process of raising their commitment can begin.
Determine Their Commitment and How to Engage Them
Unless your project is narrowly focused or of a very short duration, it is likely that the people involved are at different levels of commitment. If you are in sales or in a volunteer organization, this might be very obvious, but even in the corporate operations arena, people are at work for many different reasons and with different levels of commitment. As you begin understanding the dividing lines among the levels of commitment, you can engage each group to understand their needs and motivations. As people see that you are reaching out so that you can best accommodate them, you will strengthen your connection, creating the opportunity to increase commitment.
Develop a Path from One Level to the Next
As you understand the needs and motivations of each type of person at each level of commitment, you can fashion pathways that invite people to become more committed. In the volunteer or non-profit world, this often takes the form of “clubs” with gifts or incentives at different levels reflecting the tastes or motivations of the donors. For example, I support Saint Joseph’s Indian School (www.stjo.org) for Lakota (Sioux) children. The “Tiyospaye Club” offers monthly donors incentives ranging from student artwork and notes to Native American themed items, allowing the school to deepen connections and spread its brand.
In the world of services, this might take the form of offering workshops at different price points that provide useful information for those involved, with an invitation to participate in more advanced workshops when they see the value. In the corporate world, training or the opportunity for diverse assignments could accompany those who demonstrate higher commitment – demonstrated by solid performance.
Observe and Evolve
Finally, observe and evolve your strategies. Your experience, market forces, and life events will all affect the results you get with individuals and with groups at different levels of commitment. And remember, you don’t have to figure it all out at once. You can work in stages, focused on the areas that will yield the greatest impact. Regular observation and evolution will not only help you improve your processes, it will demonstrate your commitment to others – which is the most powerful way of encouraging them to increase their own level of commitment to you and your project.