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This chapter is from the book

The Rest of the Cast of Characters: The Committed and the Compliant

What about the other people who participate in your team? What does it take to understand and motivate them to generate the energy and momentum needed for success?

One way to get started is to sort your team members into two broad categories—the committed and the compliant.

Suppose you have two team members, each of whom has been asked to deliver your team’s business plan to a senior executive. The executive will review the plan and decide whether or not to approve it.

The committed team member walks the plan over to the exec’s office and asks the assistant if the executive is available. Learning that he or she is in a meeting that’ll end in five minutes, the committed team member decides to wait until the executive is free. When the exec strolls out of the meeting, the committed team member puts the plan into the exec’s hands and says, “Thanks for reading this. It means a lot to us and we’re really looking forward to your good thinking on this challenge.”

By contrast, the compliant team member decides not to wait around. Instead, she simply passes the envelope to the exec’s assistant and walks away. She provides no context, no enthusiasm, not even a pitch to the assistant for help.

Committed people are driven by the project at hand. They’ve caught the passion. They are curious. They want responsibility.

Compliant people are just going through the motions. They may be present physically, but they haven’t bought in with their hearts and minds. They’ll do the least amount of work necessary to get credit for participating, but they don’t contribute new ideas or support the old ones with enthusiasm.

When you know where everyone sits, compliant or committed, you can begin to work on motivating them. Think of it in steps:

  1. First, chain up the cave people—don’t let them near your project.
  2. Next, determine who’s committed and who’s compliant. Then build early successes with those who are committed and demonstrate this success back to those who aren’t. Many people in most organizations will be swayed away from their compliant status toward commitment by evidence of success. You’ll find that the momentum created by their shift towards commitment is just tremendous.

With each success, take time to celebrate and demonstrate how everyone can play a role creating even more success.

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