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On Commitment To Your Company (Recession Edition)...

Interesting conversation going on between 2 well-known HR bloggers about the wisdom of "committing" to your company.  Work with me on this one; here's the first part from my friend Laurie at Punk Rock HR:

"Scott Pitasky spoke about Microsoft’s staffing department, yesterday, and one statement stuck in my craw. Microsoft employees don’t have goals. They have commitments.

Ho-lee-crap, dudes. Commitment? Like Mormons? Like a dysfunctional marriage?Mr_commitment

  • I made a commitment to my husband when I married him in Las Vegas.
  • I made a commitment to my cats when I adopted them.
  • I made a commitment to stop eating Domino’s Pizza because they support right-wing political candidates and causes.

When I work for a company, I do a job and you pay me. When I suck, you fire me. When you suck, I quit. This isn’t rocket science."

Another friend of mine, Jessica Lee, hit a comment to the post and also blogged about her thoughts in response.  Here's the comment in Laurie's post (one of many):

"all these commitment-phobes leads me to believe there are a lot of disgruntled peeps out there. geez! y’all are bringing me down…

to quote someone i respect, our friend Frank Roche… “companies ARE their people… you know how to be loved? love someone. it has to start somewhere. committing to doing the right thing that’s good for you and the company is the way to go.”

i guess my glass is more than half full…"

Laurie's response to that in a nutshell:

"You are not paid to commit, and you should really think about the emotional capital you invest in your job. It’s not healthy, dudes, and it’s not right."

I'm going to straddle the fence on this one as follows.  You should emotionally commit to your profession, because doing all the things that entails (passion, extra work, involvement in your professional community, etc.), is really the only thing that distinguishes you within your company.  Notice I'm talking about commitment to your profession

To Laurie's point, the company pays you.  I think the commitment you make that provides value needs to be within your profession.  As long as the company pays you, all the extra work and the benefits are theirs.

But the key for me is that your commitment is portable.  Invest in your profession and the company gets the benefits because you're good.   When the relationship ends, you can take the intellectual capital with you to the next gig.


Jessica Lee

quick note because i want to write more on this one... and probably will because i actually don't think a commitment to your profession isn't good enough. you and i have a shared commitment to our profession - to seeing HR be better, cooler, sexier, smarter... but that's not enough to bind us together as professionals in our blog, in other places. for things to really work, there has to be a shared commitment to a set of values. and when i think about things from a recruiting perspective - i recruit for and want to hire folks who share in the values of my firm. dunno if i'm just really seeing things lately through rose colored lenses... but that idealistic perspective is keeping me going lately...

Bohdan Rohbock

Deciding to be emotionally un-engaged from where you spend (at least) eight hours a day is unhealthy. Commitment doesn't bind your soul nor actually force you to do anything, it is simply a promise. Generally, an emotionally strong promise.

Using 'commitment' instead of 'objective' is just flavor. Objectives (or goals) are only meaningful if you're committed to accomplishing them. While not exactly the same thing you should be able to use the words interchangeably. Otherwise don't have the goal.


Like Laurie, I heard Scott Pitasky’s reference to the “commitments” of Microsoft’s employees. Unlike Laurie, however, I found those comments to be quite refreshing – a new way of looking at things, if you will. A commitment, after all, is an action dominated by obligations, right? Are we not obligated to our employers? My paycheck says I am. For better or for worse… until one of us parts, there’s a mutual obligation. Essentially, mine is to work hard and produce results. My employer’s is to compensate me accordingly, treat me with respect, and so on. If they’re holding up their end of the bargain, then I feel obligated to return the favor (aka commit to my work). What’s the big deal? It’s not like it’s “til death do we part”.

Paul Hebert

Just based on the comments and the content... who would you want to work for, work with or have work for you?

It would take a very special person to only get out of bed for money. I don't know about the rest of you - I need something a bit more than that to get me to want to really, really work above the bar.

Meg Bear

I think I'm with you but I put it a bit differently. My commitment is to myself and the work I do is part of me. Basically the same point as you have given to the concept of a profession. For that, I do have a commitment and I do agree it's portable (i.e, I take it with me wherever I go). When I work for a company they benefit from my commitment while I benefit from their paycheck. It's a mutually beneficial relationship. If that quits working, I move on, because I never want a bad work situation to take away the respect i have for myself with my work.

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