Short-term outcomes vs. long-term commitment

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I’ll try to frame this up in both work and personal terms. Let’s begin with where I got the concept from, which is this articleand this pull quote:

“You and your employees need to examine how they are treating others,” Banks says. “When I was running organizations, I had individuals who were extremely competent, but I thought the manner in which they generated results sometimes was not consistent with our core values. I’ve had individuals who just eviscerated people as a technique for generating short-term outcomes, but that behavior is not going to engender long-term commitment.”

This quote should be a “no shit” moment. Sadly, though, it often is not for people who become managers. That’s part of the reason that the picture around respect in the workplace isn’t too rosy. (Neither is trust.)

The work application of this idea

Work is largely about checking boxes, hitting numbers, and having control of some situation.

We often ignore and don’t discuss that, but that’s usually what work is about.

When you’re trying to hit numbers, that’s a short-term outcome.

“I need this thing done — and now.”

Another way to think on this is “sense of urgency” management.

The way many managers approach “short-term outcomes” is to demand more, which is why work stress is through the roof.

But the demands and pressure — or the faux accountability — doesn’t engender long-term commitment. For that, you would need gratitude, some friendship, context, respect, trust, community, etc. We all know the drill. But managers feel overburdened with their own stuff and forget it. That’s why you have stats like “60% of managers say they don’t have the time to respect their employees.”

Respect is a thing that you schedule? Apparently when the KPIs are crushing you, it is.

If you want long-term commitment from people (and that’s a strategic advantage, honestly), you need to think long — not just about ringing that bell immediately in front of you.

The personal application of this idea

This happens a lot in friendships and relationships too — people think short-term, as in “I need this now,” as opposed to long-term, i.e. the bigger picture of what the relationship is.

I’ve been divorced and all that, and I can think of small (short-term) moments in the last three-four months of being together that seemed fine at the time, but never should have really happened, because they poorly reflected a long-term commitment. I’m not gonna hit specifics because it’s only partially my story to tell, but rest assured they existed.

We try to draw thick lines between “work” and “personal,” but ya know, they’re really very similar.

We’re all just out here looking for something.

How can we manage short-term and long-term better?

Simple answer: self-awareness.

More nuanced answer: if you’re framing this up in the context of employee loyalty, well, employee loyalty has no economic sense to it. Most companies give raises at about 1–3%, but you can usually make 5–10% more by job-hopping.

Who would thus stay?

So look, long-term commitment in a work sense might not be a real thing — but even if the people change, you should be making a long-term commitment to managing well, providing context, and not being an asshole.

Same in your friendships and relationships.

Short-term outcomes cannot be the rationale for eroding long-term commitment. The latter needs to be the focus.

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Blogging, largely about work and how to improve it. How I make (some) money:

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