Submitted by Ashley Radder-Renter on Wed, 03/17/2021 - 18:55
<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >The Power Of Relationships: 5 Ways To Build Commitment on your team!</span>

The Power Of Relationships: 5 Ways To Build Commitment on your team!

This month’s five-part blog series "The Power of Relationships!" is loosely based on Patrick M. Lencioni's research that found five dysfunctional areas where teams tend to struggle, as described in his book, The Five Dysfunctions of a team. So far, we have discussed dysfunction #1, The Absence of Trust, and Dysfunction #2 Fear of Conflict and have discussed ways to help you overcome dysfunctions that will lead you and your team to experience tremendous success and improved productivity. Each week of this series will build upon the concepts discussed throughout the series. This week we will focus on the next pyramid level, dysfunction #3: Lack of commitment.

“It's as simple as this. When people don't unload their opinions and feel like they've been listened to, they won't really get on board.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                             - Patrick Lencioni.

A lack of direction and commitment on a team can turn your top performers into low-performing team members because they will feel confused about critical action steps that directly contribute to your school’s mission. The lack of approach and dedication can make colleagues and team members disgruntled. Furthermore, when your school mission and classroom objectives do not have buy-in and communicate clear expectations for deadlines and goals and consist of regular debriefing sessions for critical decisions, your school will struggle with commitment. Leaders who communicate clear goals, expectations and are consistent in meeting deadlines will lead to team members developing similar characteristics. Following through with decisions and setting high standards are essential to having team members who are more likely to buy into their mission. Teachers who set clear classroom objectives and expectations will lead to improved academic achievement. When Leaders and teachers set the bar high for themselves and others, they lead, and the results will show in the school culture and the school's academic success. Leaders who regularly debrief after making vital decisions and set clear defined steps of actions to take have schools that out master the schools that lack such characteristics. This week's blog will provide you with five steps to help you build commitment and increase retention. 

What is Dysfunction #3 Lack of Commitment?

When teams are dysfunctional due to a lack of commitment, it will impact your team’s results and productivity. Your school will struggle to meet objectives, initiative, and ultimately the needs of its students. If teams suffer from symptoms of the first two dysfunctions, trust and conflict, it will likely contribute to a lack of commitment. When you lack commitment, you will also have a lack of retention on your team and in your school. Often dysfunctional teams fail to achieve commitment and hesitate to make decisions from one to the next. When teams do not have buy-in, it can make it difficult for them to commit, leading to stagnant teams because they cannot make decisions. As mentioned in the previous blog, teams who struggle with conflict will also work to make decisions, leading to a lack of commitment. Dysfunction with commitment occurs when team members feel disillusioned and undervalued when they think that their ideas have not been given a chance to be considered. When commitment becomes an issue, it’s a good possibility that it is stemming from the results of ambiguous goals, unclear communication, and confusion regarding individual responsibilities, and indecision about a decision that needs to be made sometimes because of a desire on the part of a leader to act and make decisions when they are seeking consensus and certainty before proceeding. 

Why is this important?
Lencioni’s book states that commitment is a function of two things: clarity and buy-in, and we couldn’t agree more! What is clarity? Clarity is transparency, and clarity means that team members are absolutely clear about what is being asked and why they are being asked to do something. What they are asked to do is explained, so that team members have clear expectations. Buy-in is the other component that goes hand in hand with commitment. Team members need to have the opportunity to engage in the conversation, speak up, and be included in the discussion. It’s not essential to ensure consensus because it is okay to disagree, as long as it is communicated respectfully. YES, Inc. recognizes the value of agreeing to disagree, and therefore, this has become a practiced norm for our agency. It is important; however, for members on a team to decide that once they have expressed their thoughts, the group decides that the group’s leader has the final say, and everyone on the team will support the decision made. When you foster an appropriate environment for team success, your team will perform better, and they will engage less in dysfunctional behavior that can drag your team and your school down. 

We believe that both leaders and team members have important roles to play when it comes to commitment: The team leader must be comfortable making a decision that may be wrong.  We believe that if you make a bad decision, you are free to make another decision when needed. The leader needs to be confident and comfortable with making decisions. At the same time, the leader needs to avoid being a people pleaser. It is an unrealistic expectation for leaders to hold off on deciding because she/he is weighing their decision on a group consensus. In another one of Patrick Lencioni’s books, The Ideal Team Player, he outlines three characteristics that make ideal team members. Each team member needs to possess all three characteristics that lead to the willingness and commitment to teams. These characteristics are hungry, humble, and smart. 

Based on The Ideal Team Player, here are the definitions of hungry, humble, and smart. 

  • Hungry: Hungry team members are self-motivated and diligent. They are constantly thinking about the next step and finding new opportunities. They don’t need to be pushed to deliver above and beyond what’s required.
  • Humble: Humble team members are free from concerns about their ego or individual status. They are willing to share credit, prioritize team goals above their own, and aren’t desperate for attention.
  • Smart: Smart team members have excellent interpersonal skills. They know how to deal with others in the most effective way. They ask the right questions, listen to others, and stay engaged during conversations.

    Watch a Ted talk given by Patrick Lencioni and the Ideal Team Player here!

What does commitment look like on a team? 

You can tell when a team and its members are committed when all team members are engaged and visible through their actions and work. Committed teams have team members that embody the characteristics of hungry, humble, and smart. Additionally, you will know that commitment exists when you can see that team members are focused, attentive, responsible, energetic, and productive with their work. Another indicator of commitment on a team is the level of joy and fun present while results and productivity are consistent at a high level. When commitment is present on a team, you will notice team members having increased ownership, accountability, and creativity to make a project or a task their own. A committed team will thrive on new and innovative ideas when solving problems and concerns. Commitment exists on teams when members of the team provide value addition through their active participation in discussions. When you work with a committed team, you will have buy-in, which will lead to great ideas being brought to the table and team members who are always happy and willing to help visualize ideas and live out the team’s mission. Teams that are successful in achieving goals are usually teams that have a high commitment from team members. A committed team will go above and beyond to meet the goals and objectives of the team.  A committed team member has a clear understanding of the goal and their role in the pursuit of the goal, and they are self-motivated and raise the bar to ensure they meet expectations. Committed team members embrace the journey that the team is on and work to support all members of the team. 

Five (5) ways to improve commitment at your school and on your team:

The team with a commitment of its team members and excellent retention is also the team with trust between all team members, who are engaging only in healthy conflict. Check out these five (5) ways to improve commitment at your school. 


  1. Encourage Participation and Provide Choices:  Ask yourself if your team members want to participate. Provide them with a choice, if possible, on what role they will play on the team. If team members perceive that they have a choice, it will make it much easier for them to buy-in and commit. 
  2. Make Connections With Your Mission: Mission statements are critical elements of successful schools, organizations, and teams. Team members need to see and connect with the mission to fully buy-in and support. Ask yourself and members on the team to believe that their mission is essential to them and why. Team members want to feel as if they are part of something bigger than themselves. They need to understand where their team mission falls into the bigger organizational scheme, the overall vision. Team commitment comes from team members knowing what is expected and how it ties into the mission.
  3. Value and Show Value to All Members On The Team: It makes it so much easier to commit when members on the team feel valued as contributing individuals on the team. Ask yourself and your team if they feel like others value their contributions to the team. And ask them if they think that they are receiving value by their participation on the team. Do your team members experience personal and professional growth when they are committed to your team? When team members know that when they are committed to your team that it is an opportunity to grow, contribute to the mission, and share their know their improved commitment will be evident.
  4. Energize Your Team: Teams that have a high level of commitment are excited by challenges. Find creative ways to energize your team to help them stay motivated toward accomplishing a goal beyond the mission. Team members who are committed are excited to wake up, show up perform. Team members who are optimistic about what they will accomplish today are more committed to team objectives and goals. 
  5. Provide Rewards and Recognition: Is your school or team known for recognizing team members? If not, find a way to identify team members often for a job well done or improvement they are making each time a team member accomplishes a goal. It’s not patronizing when you provide positive feedback and let someone on your team know that you appreciate them and acknowledge and recognize their contributions. Almost everyone likes some form of recognition. Teams want and need to feel that their best work is recognized and appreciated. When this is provided a team members’ commitment to their team and project will increase accordingly. Affirming members on your team will also contribute to increased commitment and accountability. 

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