The Three-Component Model of Commitment

As an owner, or even a high-level manager, it is easy for you to be committed to your company. There are likely financial and other rewards waiting for a job well-done from your perspective. However, that might not be true for everyone in your organization. Some of the employees near the ‘bottom of the ladder’ may not feel the same kind of commitment to your business, and it can show in their performance. To make sure your company has the best possible chance at success, you need to make sure that your teams are as committed as possible to the overall vision for the business.

The Three-Component Model of Commitment

Generally speaking, an employee is going to feel highly committed to their job when they first begin working within a company. Your new hires are eager to please, excited about the opportunity, and optimistic about the future. However, those feelings tend to change over time, especially if their career path doesn’t follow the trajectory they had expected. So what can be done? By using the Three-Component Model of Commitment, you can work toward preserving the feelings of commitment that your employees had when they were first hired in to the company.

Quite obviously, given the name of the model, there are three components which make up this theory on motivation. Those three components are listed below –

  • Affection for your job
  • Fear of loss
  • Sense of obligation to stay

A person may feel that they are committed to their job, and their organization as a whole, for one or more of the factors listed above. When two or even all three of these factors are relevant for a large percentage of your staff, you will likely be in a good position with regard to having plenty of motivation within your team.

Three-Component Model of Commitment

To understand this theory in greater detail, we will look at each of the three components individually below.

Affection for Your Job

Do your employees like their jobs? Have you ever asked them? While there are many people in the world who have negative feelings about their employment, there are also plenty of people who love what they do and are excited to go to work each day. It isn’t necessarily easy to create an environment that allows people to love their work, but when you do, you will wind up with a staff that is motivated and driven to make each day the best that it can be.

Affection for a job stems not just from the actual work itself, but also from the culture of the business as a whole and the people to make up the business. A big part of looking forward to going to work each day comes from the enjoyment that an individual gets from sharing time with his or her co-workers.

Affection for Your Job

If you are able to foster positive, meaningful relationships within your staff, those relationships can go a long way toward keeping your team committed to the organization as a whole. Rather than feeling like they are simply punching the clock each day, your employees will start to value the social experience they get from work – which will help to shift their overall view of the job.

Fear of Loss

Fear is one of the most-powerful motivators in the world. You don’t want to instill fear in your employees by threatening them with termination after every mistake, however – instead, you want to have them feeling like they would lose too much if they were to choose to leave on their own. Their level of commitment to the company can actually be moved in a positive direction by feelings of fear over just how much they stand to lose if they are no longer employed in their current capacity.

Obviously, this point starts with money. If your employees feel that they are well-paid in their current jobs – and they don’t believe they could make more elsewhere – those employees are going to want to stay as long as possible. Leaving your business would not make sense from a financial perspective if they are going to have to take a pay cut in the process.

Fear of Loss

Fear of loss can extend to beyond financial concerns. Employees might also fear the loss of friendships that they have developed while working inside of your business. Or, they could even fear that they will lose skills which have been developed working in their current position – if a new job doesn’t demand those skills, they will slowly erode away.

Sense of Obligation

This last component to the model can really be summed up in just one word – loyalty. On this point, you may have employees who choose to stay because they simply feel loyal to the company as a whole. Even if they are not particularly happy with their job, or if they feel like better opportunities might be waiting out there somewhere to be explored, an employee could choose to stay for no other reason than basic loyalty.

Sense of Obligation

Where does this loyalty come from? It could be that you took a chance on hiring an individual when they really didn’t have much experience in the industry. By giving them a chance, you might have built up some good will that they wish to pay back by sticking with you for the long run. Or, if you invested in the employee monetarily (such as by paying for education), they may feel like they owe it to you to stick around as gratitude for your assistance.

Building up a sense of commitment for one or more of the reasons listed above is one of the most powerful things you can do as an owner or manager. No business wants to have a high degree of turnover within their staff, yet it can be hard to keep good employees when so many opportunities are out there to be explored. By creating a setting that cultivates feelings of loyalty and commitment, you just might be able to keep more of your staff on board for the long haul.

Key Points

  • The three-component model of commitment was created to argue that commitment has three different components that correspond with different psychological states.
  • The three components are: Affection for the job, fear of loss, and a sense of obligation to stay.
  • Affection for a job stems not just from the actual work itself, but also from the culture of the business as a whole and the people to make up the business.
  • Fear of loss can extend to beyond financial concerns and include the loss of friendships that they have developed while working for the organization.
  • Even if they are not particularly happy with their job, or if they feel like better opportunities might be waiting out there somewhere to be explored, an employee could choose to stay for no other reason than simple loyalty.
  • All three components influence the length of time that employees stay with organisations. What is most important for organisations is to recognise each type of commitment in employees, and to aim to encourage affection for the job and the organization.

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