Using Discretionary Effort Leadership to Help Unlock Employee Potential
A hallmark of the discretionary effort leadership model is bringing out the best of employees.
Employees bring many gifts to your organization. Some of these gifts are listed on their resumes such as their education, certifications, career knowledge, and skills they have developed. Other gifts, such as ability to work with others on the team, can be discerned by recommendations from people who have worked with them previously.
Many gifts are hidden inside the individual. These gifts include tenacity, loyalty, responsibility, humility, intuition, honesty, etc. These are character gifts and they don’t show up on a resume.
Employees unwrap these character gifts as discretionary effort when the environment is right. For instance, in a contentious meeting, one employee may have a gift of humor and will unwrap that gift with a humorous statement, bringing tensions down. If two employees are in a heated disagreement, another employee may unwrap her gift of mediation and get them to see both viewpoints. Yet another employee may unwrap the gift of vision and decisiveness and push their team to a decision.
In the spirit of transparency, ask and answer this question: Are employees in your department regularly giving gifts of discretionary effort? If the answer is “Yes,” keep doing what you are doing and work to establish the capacity of employees to innovate and solve problems. If the answer is “No,” evaluate the levels of the discretionary effort leadership model and see where the breakdown might be occurring.
The discretionary effort of employees is an earned gift. Facility management leadership teams can earn the right to have employees emotionally commit to them and unwrap their gifts of discretionary effort if they:
•Provide a safe and secure work environment
•Give each individual respect and extend human dignity to all
•Accept each employee “as is” when hired and help them grow professionally
•Rationally align employees with facility management goals
•Translate their vision to employees, giving them the “why,” and then offering leeway to use their creativity and skills to determine the “how” of completing a task
As the facility management leadership team incorporates these points into their culture, workers will be stimulated to give their gifts of discretionary effort on a regular basis and many management challenges will be solved. Who knows — you may slow the hamster wheel enough to step off?
Karla Brandau is the CEO of Workplace Power Institute and a thought leader in employee engagement. She and Douglas Ross developed the RossBrandau Discretionary Effort Leadership Model, are the authors of the book, How to Earn the Gift of Discretionary Effort, and cofounders of the world-wide discretionary effort leadership initiative.