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Getting More Discretionary Effort From Your Staff

Monday 18 July, 2011
If you are a savvy leader, you will plan to give more to get more. And money is not part of the equation. Most leaders are surprised to learn that employees can be motivated by factors other than money. Discover five management levers you can apply to engage employees and earn more discretionary effort from them.

To determine what might motivate your employees to give you more discretionary time, establish a personal but professional relationship with each worker. You are then privy to information such as: 

  • Olivia excels in the planning phase of a project. Knowing this, you GIVE Olivia more opportunities to plan team initiatives. She enjoys the work, feels self-actualised, and GIVES BACK more discretionary effort.
  • Phillip is not in the management ranks, but is a natural leader. You perceive he feels frustrated when the project veers off track and he is not in charge. You GIVE Phillip specific assignments where he is in charge of a portion of the project. He GIVES BACK energy in the form of moving fellow employees forward to the on-time completion of the project.
  • Tanya loves to learn but is in a job that requires routine work. Noting this, you GIVE Tanya the opportunity to research a topic for a forthcoming change initiative. She GIVES BACK by tackling her routine work with vigour, so she will have time left to do research.

If you are a manager who recognises the importance of using management levers in the work environment to address levels of motivation, then you will excel in getting your employees to give you their discretionary effort. 

Here are five management levers you can apply to engage employees and earn more discretionary effort from them: 

  1. Physical safety and security

    If you increase the safety individuals feel in the workplace, they will give their task greater concentration. Safety applies to physical protection from bodily injury,  freedom from harassment, and freedom from the threat of losing their job. I once coached a manager who believed the best way to get the employee to work harder was to keep him under constant threat of losing his job. It didn't work that way. The employees were so afraid of losing their jobs that they were in a constant state of nervousness and made frequent errors.

    If you GIVE more security, employees will GIVE BACK by conforming and complying with organisational rules.  
  2. Social acceptance

    This management lever involves team building - getting the employees to know one another on more than a superficial basis, and accepting employees "as is". "As is" means that everyone has a bump or a button somewhere. Helping employees feel accepted as they are, sets the environment for individual emotional growth.

    The more you GIVE the employee acceptance, the more the employees GIVE BACK stable work efforts.
  3. Rational alignment

    Humans are naturally goal-seeking creatures. There is a certain self-esteem that comes from setting and reaching objectives, and a deep satisfaction that binds employees together when they are aligned with organisational goals. Working to have employees rationally and intellectually understand how the organisational or departmental goals and strategies fit together, helps them align their own personal goals with company goals.

    You GIVE them the right to participate in the goal-setting process and they GIVE BACK by accepting the challenge to move goals and deadlines forward. 
  4. Emotional commitment

    Discretionary effort is given - and grows - at each of the three previous levels - but is greatest if you can obtain emotional commitment from an employee.  

    When you GIVE employees security, acceptance and rational reasons to support your organisation, they GIVE BACK emotional commitment.
  5. Authentic contribution

    This lever is a two-way street - meaning that you give great freedom to the employee and permit the employee to work in a state of 'intrapreneurship'.

    You GIVE them opportunities to self-actualise as they freely GIVE BACK authentic contributions and treat the business as if it were their own. 

Author Credits

Karla Brandau, CSP, is an expert in change, leadership and team building in the flat world. She offers keynotes and workshops to move your organisation forward. Sign up for her monthly newsletter, ‘From the Desk of Karla Brandau’ and download free articles by going to www.KarlaBrandau.com. Contact Karla at 770-923-0883 for a free consultation or to check the availability of dates to bring Karla to your organisation.
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