Soft Commitments Equal Soft Results

Triton Metal Products - Overthinking

Here at Triton Metal Products, we pride ourselves on raising the bar and working hard to get better at everything we do. This mindset of continuous improvement is more than just a catchy phrase that we tell ourselves, it’s become an ingrained part of who we are… A portion of our DNA. Because of this raise the bar mentality, we’ve recently started working on something that has profoundly impacted our business. As we’ve worked to implement this new practice into our culture, it has produced a positive ripple effect within our company internally, fundamentally changing for the better how we get things done.  What’s surprising is that this shift comes from something simple, so simple that we almost missed it ourselves.

Before jumping into the details, here’s a little context.

Accomplishing WIG’s (wildly important goals) starts with clarity. This includes sharing the vision, outlining the steps needed to hit milestones, and rallying the troops so that everyone is working together to accomplish the objectives. Clarity about the WIG is vital, and so is clarity about the role that everyone plays in the process of building momentum towards the WIG. Every team member, regardless of the department or position within the company, should be given the opportunity (and responsibility) to influence the course of the organization, to help it accomplish the mission. To do this, clarity and clear over-communication about the vision is step one.

The next crucial ingredient is commitment. The idea of committing sounds standard, maybe even typical. Of course it takes commitment to accomplish company goals. But, what we overlooked as a company was that we weren’t distinguishing the difference between a real commitment, and something we began to call soft commitments.

A soft commitment usually uses words like try instead of do. It uses phrases like ‘we’ll give it our best,’ instead of ‘we will get this done.’ Admittedly, it sounds good to say ‘we’ll do our damnedest.’ It seems right when we hear ourselves or a team member talk about trying, and we find ourselves wanting to empathize with the effort. But, it’s human nature to confuse effort with results, it’s human nature to make soft commitments. Business principle number one, never confuse effort with results. Efforts are important, but it’s results that matter.

The truth is, saying we’ll give it our best can be a way to give ourselves an out. It can be an easy excuse for not hitting the mark, even a reason for not following through on our commitments. Allowing ourselves to settle for anything less than a firm commitment can undermine the efforts of others in the company, weakening the efforts of all as they work together to accomplish the mission. I’ll give it my damnedest, or, my department will try our best to meet the deadline, is not the same as saying we WILL accomplish something, by this date, and here are the steps we’re taking to make it happen.

As a company, we’ve made it a priority to stop allowing these soft commitments to slip in under the radar. This approach isn’t overbearing though. At Triton we’re a supportive culture, we believe in treating each other like family. And, like healthy families, we want to experience success together by helping each other and by doing what’s right.  For us, it means following through and making realistic commitments and then holding ourselves accountable to meet those expectations. We do challenge each other to make positive changes, but we also care and want the best for each other too.

Here at Triton Metal Products, we’ve seen how holding ourselves accountable, and doing what we say we’re going to do, has helped us make a meaningful difference in the lives of our customers, our communities and even each other.

As we all work towards leading our teams into another successful season, and as we begin to clarify and communicate the vision. Let’s work together to raise the bar when it comes to how we challenge ourselves, and our team, to make firm commitments this year.


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