Understanding Your Employees Competency and Commitment Levels Can Improve Behavior and Motivation

There was a direct connection between a person’s commitment level and his/her confidence in his/her own ability to do his/her job. This is typically identified as competency.

Ken Blanchard speaks about Competence and Commitment (C&C) in his discussion around situational leadership; however, what is rarely discussed is the relationship between the two and the belief that competency is a driving factor for commitment.  Blanchard uses these two indicators to help identify an employee’s level of development, which is determined by the level of competency he/she has coupled with his/her level of commitment to the job or organization.

Want to improve an employee’s behavior at work?  One suggestion would be to understand competence and commitment.  It is the behavior that is the end result of one’s competency and commitment levels. In addition, if we look at all behavior being driven by a particular motivation that one has, then we can also draw a line between motivation and commitment. The understanding is that if I’m committed to doing something a certain way, then I must be motivated to do it that way as well.  For this specific instance, one might even suggest that commitment and motivation are one in the same.

Over time, these two attributes present themselves over and over again. The understanding that in each of us, and the employees in which we coach, competency and commitment not only determine the way we interact, the attitude we have or the behavior we see, but also provide for us a way to diagnose level of need and the root cause of poor behavior.  Often times we witness a behavior, possibly poor customer service, or a lack of quality in the work being completed, and depending on how we, as adaptive coaches, choose to handle conflict, we either address the behavior in an aggressive way by providing direct feedback to the employee, or choose a more passive approach by providing deeper training or instruction that might address the issues we’re witnessing.

Unfortunately in this case, our response is determined by our personal preference. Using the C&C attributes, we are able to assess the direct cause of the behavior we’re seeing and apply a more exact approach to tackling the issue at hand.  

Let’s use the example of poor quality at work. If we were to use the C&C attributes we would first look at the competency level of the employee, recognizing that competency drives commitment, and so it is appropriate to start there before jumping directly to commitment level.  If we assess the competency level of the individual, defined as possession of required skill, knowledge, qualification, and/or capacity, we begin to ask the question if the reason or cause for the poor quality is a result of the employee not knowing the correct method, or simply a lack of commitment to doing it right.  Our ability to ask this question first allows us to delineate between competency, which is resolved through teaching, training, and education or commitment.

Commitment, defined as the act of engaging one’s self, speaks to the motivation of an individual.  In an article by Ken Blanchard’s company, “From Engagement to Work Passion,” he identifies a direct correlation between an employee’s commitment to the organization and his/her engagement level within the organization.  The article goes on to talk about the attribute of engagement, but for his conversation, it was the idea of commitment as it relates to either the employee’s job or the company that caught my interest.

In my experience, commitment level is typically attributed to either a need deficiency on the part of the employee, or the development of groupthink on a team resulting from a lack of proper management/coaching.  From the individual perspective, it may be the lack of competency, praise, organizational entanglement or meaningfulness that leads to a lack of commitment. In regards to the team or group atmosphere, the lack of group commitment typically results from a lack of clear standards, morale building activities and leadership, all of which drive accountability down through the ranks.