Strengthen Commitment: Focus on What Employees Think and Feel

Have you ever tried to win an emotional argument with logic? If you have, I am guessing you lost that one. Trying to meet someone’s need for emotional understanding with logic, or someone’s need for logical understanding with emotion simply doesn’t work. Depending on the situation, we humans want to hear facts when we want facts and we want to feel an emotional response when we are emotional, and often we want both.

Logic often rules the workplace. Even with many management books written on the subject of Emotional Intelligence over the past fifteen years, leaders still find it challenging to build both rational and emotional commitment among their employees. Doing so is a key component of employee engagement. According to the Corporate Executive Board, strengthening an employee’s rational commitment and emotional commitment increases performance and retention; two things that all organizations want to achieve.

It is important to look for ways to build rational commitment, what employees think, and emotional commitment, how employees feel, about their supervisors, their work, and the company as a whole. This takes awareness and an ongoing conscious effort by leaders and the organization.

A great opportunity to strengthen employee rational and emotional commitment and to increase employee engagement is through the day-to-day interaction between supervisors and employees. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Tips for Strengthening Rational Commitment

  • Share information. As much as you can, share data on an ongoing basis and be open and honest about what the data means. Employees want to learn about the business and about the company.
  • Explain the “why” behind the “what.” Link processes, policies and procedures to productivity and financial metrics. When employees know and understand why the company is implementing or changing something, it is easier for them to get on board and support the initiative.
  • Check for understanding. Misinterpretation of information, confusion, or lack of clarity, can lead an employee to come to a logical or emotional conclusion that simply isn’t true, especially in the fast paced changing environments that are common in most organizations. Clearly communicate and re-state information and check often for understanding.

Tips for Strengthening Emotional Commitment

  • Include the WIIFM -“ What’s In It For Me. We all ask this question. Some employees, depending on their learning style and personal level of engagement, want this question answered more frequently and in more detail than others. Regularly connecting and explaining how business processes and goals benefit not only the employee, but your customers and the organization as a whole, will help strengthen emotional commitment.
  • Be open, honest, and trustworthy. Trust, between employees and their supervisors, has a huge impact on an employee’s emotional commitment. Trust in the workplace includes things like sharing the work and the rewards, keeping commitments and not being afraid to admit when something is not working.
  • Have some fun. Teambuilding, both formal and informal, is most effective when employees get a chance to know each other, discover common interests and yes, have a little fun. Employees who enjoy both the work and the people they work with are generally more engaged and more willing to put in extra effort to help the team achieve its’ goals.

I encourage you to develop a strategy to help strengthen your employees’ commitment to their work, the teams they work with, and the overall organization. Make a conscious effort to be aware of how day-to-day activities shape an employee’s rational and emotional commitment. Adjust your strategy to fit the situation and the needs of the employee. Paying close attention to what employees think and feel will help you increase employee commitment and employee engagement.

Diana Moss is senior director of Employee Engagement and Employee Relations for Comcast, one of “Chicago’s 101 Best & Brightest Companies to Work For.” She can be reached at [email protected].

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Richard Blanchard
Rick is the Managing Editor of Corp! magazine. He has worked in reporting and editing roles at the Port Huron Times Herald, Lansing State Journal and The Detroit News, where he was most recently assistant business editor. A native of Michigan, Richard also worked in Washington state as a reporter, photographer and editor at the Anacortes American. He received a bachelor of arts from the University of Michigan and a master’s in accountancy from the University of Phoenix.