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One of the biggest questions we ask as leaders, especially in the health and social care sector, is about how we can inspire our people to provide high quality care and support at a time when investment is low, and demand for clinical care is higher than ever. 

We are working at a time where we are seeing not only an ageing population, but record numbers of people coming forward for care and support with their physical and mental health needs, all exacerbated by the global Covid-19 pandemic and the impact this had on already stretched services.

We have also seen record numbers of people leaving their jobs in the UK social care sector, and vacancies at an all time high of 165,000.  Most of us understand, or at least have some awareness of the fundamental issues causing the “Great Resignation”, however, when we look closely at human behaviour, what can we learn?

There is an interesting concept we came across during the course of the pandemic, and it’s something we started to talk about within Catalyst Care Group.  The concept of “Commitment versus Compliance”. 

What does Commitment versus Compliance mean?

In a nutshell, this refers to our own mindset, and those of the people around us.
The difference is simple; compliance means somebody is doing something because they have to do it, usually for fear of a negative result. Whereas commitment means doing something because someone believes fundamentally it is the right thing to do.
If we look at this on a deeper, psychological level, we might start to understand how as leaders, we can engage people and support them to become even more committed.

Why is Commitment better than Compliance?

Compliance is usually something that is imposed on us, a set of rules or activities we need to follow at a bare minimum, to meet an objective or a goal. That is to say, it is an extrinsic force – it comes from an external source.
Commitment is something that people have intrinsically, that is to say that it comes from within and is usually linked to a person’s principles and purpose. When someone is committed to achieving something and making it happen – be it for themselves or for somebody else – it’s very difficult to stop them. That person has made a personal choice to act in this manner, and do whatever needs to be done to make their goal happen.

When we use the term “leader”, we are referring to people who are not just leaders in title, but anybody with influence over someone else. We all have the ability to lead others, especially when it comes to making the world a better place for all.
So as leaders, how can we use this knowledge to better serve not just our patients or service users, but equally importantly the people in our organisations that we have the privilege to lead?

3 Steps to Fostering Commitment

Here are 3 tips to guide your thinking on how to leverage on the power of personal commitment and ownership:

How well do you know the people within your organisation? Regardless of the size of your organisation, as a leader you should know the people around you and understand what makes them tick. What’s their reason for choosing healthcare? Why did they make the decision to work for your particular organisation and what do they see their in their future when it comes to what you can offer as a company?
In healthcare, there is a huge segment of our workforce who chose care as a vocation because it impacted them, or a family member, personally. We know that there were intrinsic feelings that drove that particular decision – by knowing these details, we can start to coach and mentor our people to remain committed to making a difference.

There are thousands of organisations in health and social care wanting to make a difference to the lives of others. In most cases, the founders of these companies had a personal “why” for wanting to set the company up in the first place. As your business starts to grow, and people join your journey, it’s critical to have a vision of where you are heading together.
An inspiring vision, co-created with the people in your team is an incredibly powerful tool. As a team, if you can agree on the direction of travel, and everyone has had a voice in creating and committing to this vision, you become unstoppable. It fosters intrinsic purpose and commitment in everyone involved.

This third step is about combining the first two. We all go through seasons in life that might mean on some days we aren’t as effective as others. The Covid-19 pandemic is a perfect example, where we saw huge amounts of Compassion Fatigue and Burnout. Even the most highly motivated, committed people driven intrinsically to make a difference reached the end of their tether, and mentally checked out. The result of this was (and continues to be) ultimately a negative impact on quality of care.
As a leader, the closer you are to the people around you, and the better you know them, the earlier you can step in and provide that welcome acknowledgement, support, rest and little burst of inspiration they might need.

Moving from Compliance to Commitment

Ultimately, people want to feel that they have choices and autonomy over their lives and their careers. As leaders, it is undeniably our role to create an environment where people can be inspired, challenged and given opportunities to grow and develop themselves.
When choices are given consistently, to make positive impact both personally and professionally, a culture of commitment can be created, fostered and maintained.
It’s about giving people the choice to move from: “I’m doing this because I have to do it” to “I’m doing this because it’s the right thing to do, and I’m going to take others with me on the journey. Crucially, it’s about somebody making a decision to give their most precious resource, their time, to your shared vision.
And therein lies the difference, and how we can inspire people to join a profession that truly makes a difference to themselves, and others.

Transforming lives

Transforming care for the better