point-fingerIf decisions were buildings, then commitments would be their foundation; without them the buildings would crumble. That’s why, in successful businesses, all decisions that are made should be followed up by firm commitments to act.

Intentions vs accountability

When someone tells you they’ve made a decision, what they’re actually telling you are their intentions, but good intentions don’t lead to results. Commitments, on the other hand, let the person making the commitment, and the person asking for it, both know there is accountability associated with the commitment.

A commitment is not a guarantee, but the added accountability makes it more reliable than a decision and helps to solve breakdowns in a professional, respectable way. If, for example, an important task is not completed by any of your salespeople, and there was a decision made (but never a commitment) don’t be surprised when your salespeople try to wiggle their way out of responsibility. This can cause mistrust between co-workers and is ultimately bad for business.

By ending meetings in your kitchen, bath or remodeling business with the question, “Who will do what by when?” you will get more commitments, more accountability, and overall, better productivity from your team. Improve the coordination and collaboration efforts of your team by strengthening every decision with a commitment.

How to get commitments

Solid commitments begin with clear requests. In an effort to be polite and avoid confrontation we often ask for things without really asking. We might say, “It would be great if…” or “We should look into…” These requests are indirect and allow others to avoid committing to them.

To get solid commitments, be direct with your request and speak in first-person to someone specific. For example, “Cindy, I need you to finish this report and have it to me by 5:00pm tomorrow. Can you commit to that?” By specifying a goal to complete (finish the report and turn it in) and including a time frame (by 5:00pm tomorrow) Cindy is more likely to commit to the task and be accountable for completing it.

The ideal request for a commitment should be formed like this:

            “For me to get A, I need you to provide B by C. Can you commit to that?”

Commitments will help everyone in your company stay accountable and prevent important tasks, like providing kitchen prospects with quick, accurate quotes, from falling through the cracks. You’ll get more accomplished while improving coordination and collaboration. Make your business more accountable by committing to making commitments.