The Three Levels of Commitment that any Culture can Experience

This week, I’d like to talk about team culture and how varying levels of commitment can affect it. An important part of being an effective team leader is to mould and shape your team culture in a way that fits with your own (and the business’) values and gets the best out of each member of your team.

If we focus on the latter and how to get the most out of your team, then we need to talk about how you need a strong understanding of a few things:

  • What drives and motivates them.
  • How they best respond to success, failure and pressure.
  • Their approach to progression and development in their career.
  • What their personal goals and ambitions are and where their career aspirations fits (or doesn’t fit) with them.

There are more, but the point here is that in order to have a great team culture, you need to understand your team. 

Therein lies the point of today’s newsletter and what I’d like you to think about this week – how committed are your team members to the performance of their job and the progression of their team?

The answer may not be what you expect and to pre-deliver a key point, it may not matter that you have varying levels of commitment. 

The three levels of commitment that any culture can experience

First, let’s broadly look at the three levels of commitment that any culture can experience as described by Damien Hughes in his book, The Barcelona Way. Whilst focusing on the famous culture that lives within the Barcelona FC football team, the principles are applicable to any high performance team. I’d recommend the book to all managers, but it’s a particularly enjoyable read if you are a football fan. 

The first level of commitment that you may see from a team member is that they show up for work and do the job exactly as they’re told to do, nothing more, nothing less.

It’s important to understand that this doesn’t mean that someone isn’t committed to their job or that they’re bad at it. Far from it, someone could be at this level of commitment and be very good and effective at their job. 

What you won’t necessarily get from someone at this level is a drive to do more than they need to both as an individual and at a team level. For example, they may not go out of their way to improve a process that makes the team more productive or efficient. They will follow the process and do a good job of it, but no more than that. 

The second level of commitment that you may see from a team member is that they show up, do their job and target certain tasks that will help them move toward a goal. They will push themselves, think about the details of the job and will get a lot better at it.

You can see the difference between these two levels fairly easily. In summary, this level of commitment differs because the individual pushes themselves a little harder and deliberately tries to progress in their role. 

It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are miles better at a job than their colleagues who may be at level one, but they will take more time to think about their progression, how to improve and how to get better.

Team members at this level, despite not necessarily being better at their jobs from a skills perspective, are more likely to push for progression and seek out opportunities for promotions too.

The third level of commitment is for a team member to show up for work, having thought about how today’s activity fits into the larger goal that they’re moving toward. They work very hard, pushing themselves into their discomfort zone. Later, they reflect and analyse their performance in a cool, objective way. They get a lot better.

You should hopefully be able to see the extra effort that someone puts into this level of commitment. They aren’t just showing up and doing their job, they are taking time to really think about improving their performance and pushing themselves hard to do this. 

Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are way better at their jobs than team members who are at other levels of commitment. Putting in this level of commitment and extra effort doesn’t guarantee better performance, although it can make it more likely. 

A key point for you to understand here is that level three commitment doesn’t happen by accident. Approaching your role at this level of commitment is a deliberate choice and something that isn’t likely to happen by accident. 

The makeup of a high performing team

Now, let’s talk about the consequences of these levels of commitment on your team and start to think about what you need to do as a manager. 

Firstly, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a successful team needs every team member to operate at level three. Whilst it sounds great, the truth is that as a team grows, probably beyond 5-6 people, not only should you not expect all team members to always reach level three, but it’s probably a bad idea to force them into this way of thinking.

Ultimately, not every single person who you ever work with will have level two commitment, let alone level three. 

And this is okay.

Remember, level one or level two doesn’t mean that someone is a bad performer or not very good at their job. 

I’m also NOT saying that accepting bad or even average performance is okay. It’s categorically not okay for you to accept this.

But it is okay if you work with people who come into work, do a good job and then go home again. Not everyone will want to push themselves hard or be desperate for their next promotion or to reach c-suite level in their career. 

This is why understanding these levels of commitment is important because not only will you naturally come across people who operate at different levels, but you’ll also be able to resist the temptation to think that level one or level two performance isn’t good enough or has no part to play in the success of your team.

Your goal should be to build a team of high performers who deliver work very well. It’s fine if some people want to progress faster than others or if some are just happy with their current role and to do a good job at it. 

So, as your team grows, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you need a team of level three performers in order to succeed. Yes, you do need people at this level and these people are likely to become those who progress fast and who play a big part in the growth of your team. But don’t brush off the value of team members who are at level one.

Scroll to Top