As I look back I can recall times in my corporate career when I was just getting on with what had to be done, ‘spinning my wheels’, staying the course and couldn’t find the spark to break out of patterns that led to boredom, frustration and lower energy moods. I was in a cycle of compliance but had lost any sense of true commitment to my own or the organisational cause.
This is something I have continued to observe in others, particularly in times of unwanted change in organisations. As a coach I have met people and sometimes entire teams who are at various stages of this process for a variety of reasons, gradually becoming disconnected to the essence of why they were there. And, worryingly it can be some time until this is detectable.
Productivity remains good enough as individuals find themselves simply complying with the task requirement. Even when companies and their leaders attempt to inspire and motivate, the next directive is complied with rather than committed to in earnest. I explore this in The Impact Book “How Engaged Is Your Team… Really?” where I challenge leaders to drive employee engagement in different ways, as this is a perilous situation for both the individual and the organisation.
If you have found yourself at any point on this path it is likely that you may have turned inward and scoured your thoughts and motives in an attempt to re-establish the point of you, your purpose. It hurts.
I have observed at a company level where the culture of (masked) compliance pervades and the once positive atmosphere erodes, albeit slowly. It takes more effort to get colleagues involved in new projects; to think beyond the now; to challenge current work patterns. Agility is lost and it is a tough uphill slope to get it back.
In situations in which you lack commitment it seems you have two options:
· Comply – but check that in doing so your personal beliefs and values are not being infringed or broken.
· Rebel – make a stand; get specific about your disconnection or disagreement; build your argument and case for your stance.
Complying for too long can lead to longer term issues – motivational and for your well-being. Rebelling for too long can impair your brand and ostracise you from the group. In both cases you are, in effect, moving further away from your ability to commit (to anything!).
But there is something you can do that can return you to your purposeful path.
1. Become aware of your complying or rebelling tendency in as early a state as possible – check in on this with trusted colleagues, peers or a coach. Be specific about what it is you are complying or rebelling about (before it pervades and becomes a general compliance or a roving rebel!).
2. Remind yourself of what you are committed to- what is important; what you want to cause; ultimately what you want. Bring this to the front of your focus, particularly in situations where your commitment will be challenged (write them on a card, on the top of your note pad etc.).
3. Change something about the compliance or rebellion provoking situations – What could you change or add? Review your attitude range; your level of involvement; your pre-work; your pre-briefing and de-briefing conversations; get involved in new activities aligned to your passion and commitments; actively let it go (see chapter 11 of The Attitude Book) or… move on!
And if the rebel is still rising then investigate that, because hidden in the rebel just might be the seeds of your new commitments. Something worth exploring…
And while you’re doing this, observe others. Look around you, who else may be travelling this difficult course and could you help them navigate it?
As always, keep it simple