Compliance vs. Commitment

The difference between compliance and commitment is simple; compliance means one is doing something because they have to, for fear of some negative result, (e.g., losing their job). Commitment means doing something because one believes that what one is doing is the right thing to do.

When it comes the staff’s use of your database, do you have compliance, or commitment? How can you tell? Here are some signs:


  • Staff never asks questions about the database, preferring to simply follow any procedures that have been explained to him or her.
  • Rather than fixing or reporting obvious errors in the database (whether data errors or programming errors) staff ignores the issues and chooses to work around them.
  • Staff uses the database to its bare minimum (or outright ignores it, which is really non-compliance).
  • Staff only updates data when the CEO demands it.


  • Staff asks for help with the system.
  • Staff develops processes to improve how the system is managed and used.
  • Staff shares new ideas with other users.
  • Staff explores the system in hopes of “discovering” new functionality.

Of course, the list for both could be made much longer. But when it comes to managing your staff, and especially as it relates to your database, if you have compliance rather than commitment, it’s going to be very difficult to really leverage your database to advance your organization’s mission.

So look around your organization. Do you have compliance, or commitment?

About Wes Trochlil

For over 30 years, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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