Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Commitment. To Work?

Heard a story from a friend of mine the other day about his boss asking whether he's "100% committed to the company" and that got me thinking about commitment to work.

Commitment as a concept is usually not at this "100% in" status. To truly exist, it requires two parties in sync and requires a progression to reach what we'll call real true commit.

The beginning stage of commitment is the evaluation... that period of time when each party is "thinking about thinking about" and making a decision as to how they feel. In the context of work, things kick off when a company needs a warm sentient body to do stuff on it's behalf. While the company is casting about to find the right person to help them make more money (which is the end goal of pretty much all companies), the prospective employee is also looking to put themselves in the best work situation they can. Often times that's based on money, but can also have lots of other criteria in play.

After the two parties meet, finish their dance and decide to pair off in the form of an employment offer and acceptance... are they committed? Not hardly. Even a signed contract is only enforceable as far as either side is wiling to abide by the terms. In most company-employee cases, though, there's not much of a contract and the worker can either be let go or walk away at any point. Particularly in the case of firms beholden to shareholders (and as I wrote about here), this is often company initiated in the pursuit of lowering expenses.

So... commitment. What is it then in terms of employment? I'd say that commitment is an employee doing such a good job that a company couldn't stand to let them go and a company doing such a good job by it's employee that they wouldn't want to leave. It's not something that gets put in place via an ultimatum from either side, but simply a genuine desire for someone to be kept around or someone to not want to be elsewhere.

It's not about the commitment, it's about the place and the work. If the place is right and the work done is right, the concept of drawing a line in the sand and having someone step forward never needs to come about... and employees don't have to ask those silly "do I have job security?" questions of their management. In line with this, I think about a post done with link to a Scott Belsky Creative Meritocracy piece... it's a free agent world for all.

With all this talk about commitment in work... really, here's where I wrote about the type of work I can think of that needs this aforementioned "100% commitment."

Everything else that we do with work is in comparison, pretty trivial.