Turn Compliance Into Commitment: Conversation For Agreement and Request

How do you motivate people to operate out of commitment instead of compliance? There are four steps to make this happen: conversation for agreement, request, promise and follow-up. In this newsletter we’ll discuss the first two steps, conversation for agreement and request. You can also learn more about this subject in a 52-week course, Eating the Elephant One Bite at a Time (for a free offer, click here and sign up for “52 FREE Weekly Leadership Lessons”).

To follow a previous illustration, if I’m the director of a team of people who needs to create an unprecedented 20% increase in sales, I first need to find out what motivates the individuals on my team. So, I begin with conversation for agreement. This is a fact-finding conversation to discover what is important to the person I want to motivate, and how they see that lining up with the goal we want to accomplish. Primary motivators are money, recognition, a cause, or a combination of these.

If the employee I’m talking to is motivated by money, then I might offer a large bonus at the end of the year if she produces the 20% increase. If the increase is only 19%, however, then she won’t get anything. I am clear about this amount before I enter into the conversation for agreement. If the employee is a promoter-type motivated by recognition, the incentive may be a Christmas party where she is singled out on stage to receive an award. A combination of money and recognition may also appeal to this individual. The strongest motivator is cause, however. To this type of person I may ask, “What difference will a 20% increase make?” It means we can give more to charity, build a new playground for the neighborhood, hire more interns, or whatever is appropriate.

Once the employee agrees on a motivator, she is committed because she sees the value in it for herself, her cause or purpose. Now we can move on to the request stage of promise and request.

At this point, I propose what I see as necessary to make the 20% increase happen. Having done my homework, I say, “You and your team need to make two hundred sales calls in the next two weeks. These need to be cold calls, meaning the product is pitched to someone who is not already a customer. In fifteen days, I’m going to bring you back into the office and we’re going to go over the results.”

What’s inherent in this request? A specific action that produces a specific result within a given time limit. This is a pure request; the other person fully understands what you are asking of them.

What happens next? Nothing unless the employee I’m speaking to says, “Yes, I’ll do it.” In an upcoming newsletter we’ll discuss how to navigate the promise and feedback steps of the commitment process.

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