Compliance Without Commitment

I walked into the Subway sandwich shop just outside of the Cleveland airport, to be greeted with “How are you doing? Welcome to Subway”. Sounds great doesn’t it? I’m certain the owner intended it to be welcoming, but the delivery from the person greeting me was anything but welcoming. He never looked up from making a sandwich, and the tone was dry and insincere. It left me with an uncomfortable feeling and it made my experience there less pleasurable than if he had said nothing at all. He was compliant to the company rules, but with no commitment to the customer.

It made me think about our business. How often are we doing what we are asked without giving it any thought to what the purpose of the task is? How often do we comply with the policy without any commitment to the customer?

I’m probably not the greatest manager. I share what I want the team to do, but don’t do a great job of explaining the “why” it needs to be done. I’ve been told I also give off the vibe that intimidates my team into them not asking questions that lead to their understanding. My lack of explanation and the team’s fear of asking questions sometimes manifests itself in good work, but not great work. The team will be compliant, but if they don’t understand the “why” they can’t add their great ideas and inputs.
Have you had this happen in your business? Has your team been compliant without being committed?
I’ve been coached to discipline myself to take steps to insure understanding:

  • Take the time to think through what the messaging is when you ask for compliance to a policy
  • Share the “why”
  • Ask for understanding from the team
  • Have them share what they heard (the “why”)
  • Ask for suggestions on how they can improve upon the work to be completed
  • Monitor the actions as needed and monitor the results

I’m certain the owner of the Subway would have been less than thrilled with the commitment to the policy for greeting their customer, just as we all have been when we don’t perform to our expectations. I’m committed to helping my team deliver the best work we can deliver, and that’s on me to take a stand to make the time to share the “why”.

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