6 steps to harnessing discretionary effort

frustrated-businessmanSo many of the leaders I work with are frustrated by failed attempts to lift the energy and contribution of their team.  People plodding along doing no more than they absolutely have to is all too familiar and a common challenge across the diverse range of industries I work with.  Regardless of the unique obstacles an organisation is facing or the objectives they are working to achieve, tapping into discretionary effort takes the same approach. Six steps every people manager must take to ensure they leverage the full potential of their team’s talent and energy include:

RecruitmentHire well – Look for people who are excited by the opportunity your role and organisation offer.  Hire people who are looking for far more than just a job, but a career and organisation they can be passionate about and grow with.  Make sure anyone you bring into your team shares your corporate values and is likely to behave in ways that enable both their own success and that of the people around them.

TrapezeEarn trust and respect – When people trust and respect the person in charge they are entirely more likely to invest the depth of energy needed to enable the team to thrive.  Contemplate for a moment the type of leader who inspires you to give your all and go beyond the call of duty.  Equally reflect on those who have caused you to minimize your efforts and do no more than you have to.  Relationships with your team based on trust and respect will influence the emotional ownership they feel and loyalty they give.

VisionCreate compelling vision – Get people excited about the future and what together you are capable of achieving.  To inspire people to be at their best, set their sights on ambitious goals that demand they link arms with their colleagues, dig deep and strive.  Focus your team not only on what you are striving to achieve but also why.  Allow your team to see the purpose and meaning behind the work you do and role you play.

Optimism2Inspire hope and optimism – People are more likely to strive when they believe their special efforts will be rewarded.  In other words when people have hope they are more likely to work hard to succeed. Among the most important ways a leader can inspire people to contribute more is by giving them reason to.  Help people to see a light at the end of a long tunnel, show them the benefits that lie at the end of a challenging road.  Inspire people to see an optimistic version of reality and they are more likely to choose to act, to take the steps necessary to get over the line and win.

Thank-YouReward and recognise efforts – A good old-fashioned thank you or pat on the back is often all it takes to ensure people feel respected and appreciated.  It’s astonishing to me how often I meet talented and committed people who feel undervalued.  Often they are in fact highly regarded by their employer, and valued by their colleagues, they just don’t know it.   While it’s important people feel fairly compensated, inspire discretionary effort by showing genuine appreciation for the efforts people on your team make.

DucklingsLead by example – How much more inclined you are to go the extra mile for a leader you know is wiling to do the same? What about when the opposite is true – how likely are you to do more than you have to when you work for someone who only ever does just enough to get by?  Most of us are inspired to dig deep and strive by a leader who is willing to get in the trenches along side us and lead by example.


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