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Business Tips: Give More to Get More

by Karla Brandau, CSP

Would you like more discretionary effort from your employees?

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. To determine what might motivate your employees to give more discretionary time, establish a personal but professional relationship with each worker.

You then are 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-actualized, and GIVES BACK more discretionary time.
  • Phillip is not in management ranks, but is a natural leader. You perceive he feels frustrated when the project veers off 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.
  •  Tanja 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 coming change initiative. She GIVES BACK by tackling her routine work with vigor so she will have time left to do research.

Is this imaginative and unconventional wisdom? If you are a manager prone to managing business as usual, then the answer is yes. But if you are a manager who recognizes the importance of using management levers in the work environment to address levels of human motivation, then you will excel in getting your employees to give you discretionary time.

Doug Ross and I have generated a new model for getting discretionary effort from employees. In this model, the RossBrandau Engagement and Discretionary Effort Model, there are five management levers you can apply to engage employees and earn more discretionary time from them.

Those levers are:

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 organizational rules.

2. Social Acceptance. This management lever involves team building, getting the employees to know one and other on more than a superficial basis, and accepting employees "as is". "As is" means that everyone has a bump or a button off 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 GIVES 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 organizational goals. Working to have employees rationally and intellectually understand how the organizational 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. When you GIVE employees security, acceptance and rational reasons to support your organization, they GIVE BACK emotional commitment. Discretionary effort is given at grows at each of the three previous levels, but is greatest if you can obtain emotional commitment from an employee.

5. Authentic Contribution. This level 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-actualize as they freely GIVE BACK authentic contributions and treat the business as if it were their own.
As you increase the number of employees giving authentic contribution to your organization, beating the competition and gaining market share is top of mind. Watch the profit margin rise.

The Workplace Power Institute helps organizations be more competitive in the global marketplace by removing blocks to organizational productivity and improving collaboration.

For program information and an invitation to Karla Brandau, CEO, to speak at your next event or training workshop, call 770-923-0883 or send an email to



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