April 20, 2009

Staying Committed During Difficult Times

What comes to mind when you think of commitment? Commitment to a relationship? Commitment to a religious belief? Commitment to heath/wellness? Commitment to a job or organization? When we are committed to something we are dedicated to taking continuous action toward making it succeed.

Tough times challenge our commitments. Relationships are tested when our significant others are nott on their best behavior. Religious beliefs are sometimes tested during catastrophic disasters. When we’re injured, our commitment to exercise sometimes wanes. When organizations face layoffs and resource cutbacks we begin to question our commitment to the company.

That is why it is so critical for leaders to focus on commitment during the current downturn in the economy. Commitment must be renewed and reinforced towards values, results, customers, and employees to improve productivity and organizational health.

“Individual commitment to a group effort -- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” - Vince Lombardi, Football Coach

· Commitment to Values: People use their values for making decisions and determining how to live their life. Daily stress may move us away from modeling our values such as credibility, honesty, teamwork, excellence, collaboration, empathy, accomplishment, etc. It is time to reflect on our core values and use them every day to demonstrate leadership effectiveness.

· Commitment to Results: Change and stress during challenging times will tend to drain our motivation. We may find our mind wandering and unfocused. It is time to refocus our energy on obtaining results every day. Start by goal setting with your team to point everyone in the same direction. Keep goals uppermost in everyone’s mind by posting them, measuring them, and communicating results.

· Commitment to Customers: Customer’s have less to spend these days. Organizations that value customers and provide value for their hard earned dollars will retain their market share. Show customers you are committed to continuing a relationship even if their spending is reduced to create loyalty for when the economy improves.

· Commitment to Employees: Although listed last, this is one of the most important commitments during tough economic times. Your employees are the key to servicing your customers, if they aren’t treated well it will be difficult for them to treat your customers well. Employees are observing how they are treated during tough times to determine whether they will stay with your organization when job openings increase. If they feel you are committed to them, they will be committed to the organization.

In what area has your commitment been tested lately? Renewing your commitment to values, results, customers and employees will make your organization more productive and healthy during difficult economic times.

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