Sunday, June 26, 2005

Commitment vs. Engagement

In response to a recent post, Regina said:
I am back and something is niggling at me these days about "engagement." I guess I am struggling with the differences between engagement and commitment. The terms of engagement are different. I am thinking about how to articulate the differences. Maybe engagement is the default since commitment is so hard nearly impossible to get these days??

Initially I thought I had an easy answer, but as I thought about it, some confusion grew in my own head. Here's my attempt at an answer:

Commitment to me seems to be the idea that the employee feels some sort of responsibility to the wellbeing of the organization as a whole. This may be a responsibility to the company, his/er product, facility, or department. Engagement is commitment and it adds to it the feeling of excitement and enjoyment of one's work. Basically, engagement is a deeper level of commitment.

Let's take for example Coca Cola employees (just because Regina has me thinking about this brand thing). A Coca Cola employee is probably pretty darn committed to the Coke organization compared to Pepsi. That is to say that a Coke employee would never jump ship and go work for Pepsi. However, While you're average Coke factory worker loves the product, they may not feel that engaged in their work. Another example would be GM automobile employees. This may be stereotyping, but your average detroit UAW member would not drive a Japanese care. But at the moment, they all hate their jobs and are pretty distance from commitment.