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Project Leaders: Why You Must Be Intentional About Gaining Team Member Commitment (and How To Do It)

The key to commitment is in three simple steps.

by Mary Osgood, Senior Partner


Team Member Commitment: Who’s Role Is It?


In my work as a project team consultant, I often hear team leaders say to me, “Mary, I have some team members who just won’t commit to a team decision. We’re on a tight deadline. They need to commit, asap!”


It’s common to believe team members are responsible to personally figure out how to commit to team decisions. However, we believe it’s the opposite: it is the Project Leader’s job to gain full commitment from each and every team member.


There are numerous side effects to a lack of commitment. If team members don’t commit, they’re just half-heartedly going along with decisions, which means they’re unlikely to have the kind of alignment necessary to reach their goals. And this impacts bottom-line. It leads to poor results and team member turnover. It may even lead to project failure.


So those are just some of the effects of a commitment-less team. Now what are the causes?


The two greatest causes of a lack of commitment are: 1) the desire for consensus and 2) the need for certainty, both of which are not possible in all situations.


Great teams understand they must be able to commit, even when the outcome is uncertain.


In the context of a cohesive project team, commitment is defined as "clarity around decisions and moving forward with complete buy-in from every member of the team, even those who initially disagreed with the decision."


If you, as a Project Leader, do not intentionally take action on a regular basis to develop and maintain each team member’s commitment, then we guarantee you have team members who are not fully committed to the project’s decisions, no matter how important they are!


But what does this look like? What actions do we recommend on a regular basis to maintain commitment from each and every team member?


Here's our 3 steps to 'keeping the commitment':


1. Make sure every voice is heard. People will not actively commit to a decision if they have not had the opportunity to voice their opinions, ask questions and understand the rationale behind it. Check out Productive Conflict if your team engages in destructive conflict behaviors, such as personal attacks or angry outbursts.

2. Demand clarity for all goals and decisions. Clarity means knowing exactly what it is you’re committing to and making sure everyone on your team is on the same page.


3. Create 100% buy-in. Buy-in is about making sure ALL members’ ideas and concerns are heard and they get behind the team’s ultimate decision, whether they agreed with it initially or not.


Sounds simple, right? Three steps. Simple, yes. Easy? Not so much.


Why is this not as easy as it sounds? Because each member has a uniquely different DiSC behavioral style that directly impacts the way they behave in terms of the 3 Commitment steps above. For example: the ‘C’ style team member may need precise details before committing, and the ‘S’ style team member may not speak up at all, for fear of offending others. Most of the time, they are not even aware of why they have difficulty committing….they just know they can’t.


So as the Project Leader, how might you understand the commitment obstacles team members have and take steps to create a team culture of 100% commitment? We can help!


Engage your team in the DiSC Team Development profile. Help your team members learn and apply new behaviors in terms of clarity, buy-in and commitment. This profile report and workshop experience will help you and your team members:

  • Understand their individual approach and natural tendencies when experiencing lack of commitment.

  • Develop productive behaviors when dealing with commitment to the team. These behaviors are customized for each person, based on their DiSC style.

  • Understand their teammates’ behavior toward commitment and create productive outcomes.

DiSC Team Development is the key to gain commitment, quickly build cohesiveness, and deliver great results.


Are you a project leader interested in the DiSC Team Development survey? Sign up today for your free profile, so you can gain valuable insight into yourself about commitment.