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  • Writer's pictureLacy Starling

#67: Don't be Afraid of Commitment

A dear friend of mine once told me that we learn as much from our clients as they learn from us, and of course she's right. (She's always right.) Last week, I had the perfect example of that, when a client of mine took the Expectations Sheet I recommend all my clients use and turned it into something so much better.

This client, in preparing for her new hire to come on board, created what she called a "Commitment Sheet." (She swears up and down that's what I called it when we discussed it, but I am giving her full credit for this.) It contained all the same things as the Expectations Sheet I have used, but instead, frames it as a commitment that the employee is making to accomplish those tasks to standard.


So, instead of expecting something of someone, which puts the agency on the boss, the employee is taking that agency, and committing to performance. I was just blown away by this simple change and what a difference it made in the framing of the situation.

The only addition I made to it, in my own iteration that I set up later, was to add the commitments that the company is making to the employee. So, my new receptionist Jane is committing to greeting everyone who walks in the door within 30 seconds, answering the phone by ring three, and ensuring all calls are routed properly, and I'm committing to regular performance conversations, open and honest communication, training opportunities at regular intervals and by Jane's six-month mark, a written plan for her to grow within the company. And so on.

So now, if one of us fails to hold up our side of the bargain, the other has a very honest, but gentle, way of pointing that out. We can simply take out the commitment sheet, and say, "You committed to regular performance conversations on this schedule and it has been five months since we were able to sit down formally and talk. I'd like to get back on track."

"Honoring a commitment" has a much better emotional feel to it than "meeting expectations," and strips those conversations of accusation and resentment about YOU telling ME what I'm supposed to be doing.

All in all, it was, as I mentioned, a brilliant stroke that I'm totally stealing and using in my own business and with all my clients. I'd recommend you give it a try, too.

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