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Discretionary effort is effective, free and every business leader should be using it.

When a pandemic like Coronavirus takes over the world, everything changes. It is therefore not hugely surprising that feelings of fear and doubt have crept into business teams all over the world. Perhaps you’ve noticed.

Will our business be able to recover? How safe is my job? How and when can we get back on track? These are all questions your staff might be asking and worrying about. You might even share the same feelings too.

The good news is that there is an effective antidote to feelings like these, and never has it been so important in business as it is now.

Discretionary effort should form a huge focus in your leadership role throughout the remainder of the pandemic and the years to come. But what is it?

discretionary effort

What is discretionary effort?

Put simply, discretionary effort is going the extra mile.

It’s perfectly possible for any member of staff to meet a target or comply with the standards expected within your organisation. But to achieve successes beyond what is required or expected? That’s where effort becomes “discretionary”. It’s up to the member of staff themselves to decide to put it in (whether consciously or not).

When your people feel compelled to constantly give their best, your business will be capable of reaching new successes, even through a pandemic.

If you can create a culture where your staff put in this extra effort, you will drive improvement across all the measures that contribute to financial and operational success:

  • It engenders respect for resources, reducing your costs
  • It boosts productivity and increases output
  • It leads to the pursuit of new sales and expansion
  • It creates a greater sense of trust where employees are working from home
  • It even reduces sick leave

In other words, discretionary effort is absolutely crucial. Interestingly, small business leaders can be just as effective at generating it as corporates. You see, drawing out discretionary effort need not require an influx of cash; rather it is the passion and proximity between you and your staff that will give you the edge.

How do you make it happen?

Leading with grace results in a plethora of benefits for any manager or leader in business, including more discretionary effort from staff. It’s vital that you win the followership of those you are leading.

Of course, you must work hard to set a good example and perfect your own output. But you must also be seen to be exercising discretionary effort yourself, at every given opportunity; the positive ones as well as the more challenging. That might include:

  • Being prepared to act on hard, painful-to-implement decisions
  • Expecting the same standards from other seniors as you do from junior staff
  • Triggering positive emotions in others, especially when holding them to account
  • Never flinching from accountability
  • Displaying genuine warmth and optimism

Discretionary effort is one of the most vital sources of energy in business. And if you can create a team for whom it’s second nature? You must be doing something right.

Contact us to learn the tools and techniques to encourage discretionary effort in your workplace.