Employee Retention Lessons from 4-H Commitment

The Motivations that Drive Commitment

What does Archery and the social group 4-H have to do with employee retention and leadership? More than you might realize

My wife grew up participating in 4-H and all their community activities. She went to camps, attended meetings, and genuinely cared for the values of the organization. My youngest son wanted to give archery a try, and my wife saw an opportunity to pass her love of 4-H onto him by signing him up for the 4-H archery club.

He fell in love with archery and looked forward to going every month. When my wife wanted him to attend the 4-H club meetings and get more involved, he wanted nothing to do with it. He enjoyed shooting arrows at targets, but he had no commitment to 4-H as an organization or any of its other functions. He just wanted a regular opportunity to enjoy archery.

Your commitment to your career/company could be for a number of reasons. As a leader, you have an obligation to figure out what your own commitment is and that of the people who work with you. Then, you need to tie that commitment into the vision, mission, and values of your agency if you want to maximize retention.

Here are a few examples of where people are committed that you can identify and cultivate:

  1. Personal Fulfillment: My son is using 4-H to enjoy archery. His commitment is to what he gets to do. He is using the organization to fulfill some personal desire. You have people working with you who are using your company to fulfill a desire and accomplish some personal goal. I know many people who work part-time for Starbucks because they can get full-time benefits like health insurance. Others go into commission-based sales for the money they can make. Some people want to help people, and they get a job with a social service agency to fulfill that need. Tap into the personal desires of your people and align their goals with your mission.
  1. Organizational Commitment: My wife is committed to 4-H as an organization. She loves what they stand for, the work they do, and the opportunities it provides. You too probably have folks who are “company” people. They believe in the mission of the organization and find fulfillment working for the company. This sort of commitment, if properly cultivated, will give you someone who will move up and always be a testimonial for the organization.
  1. Prestige: You’ve probably met someone, or might be the person, who loves the prestige of association or membership. You know what I mean; the person who graduated from that ivy league school, or interned with the illustrious whoever. If you are the person under whom they are getting that prestige or your company provides that sort of opportunity, then you can tap into that pride to motivate the person drawn to that to ensure high-quality outcomes.

Whatever the commitment your people have, you have an opportunity to leverage that for the good of them and your organization, but you have to identify it in your people, and it helps when you’ve identified it in yourself too.

Question: What else are people committed to? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


I am an author, speaker, and leader with a passion for developing people into practical leaders who put their principles into practice. I am the co-author of the acclaimed book Faith Acts with best-selling author Dillon Burroughs, the Chief Operations Officer at the Chattanooga Community Kitchen, and an independent leadership consultant to up and coming leaders and start up nonprofit organizations. My greatest joy, however, is serving Christ and his Church. I am the proud husband of Shay and father of two great boys. We live in Chattanooga, TN. #NoogaStrong

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, off-topic, or downright annoying.

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