Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tap discretionary effort for innovation and success

Learning & Innovation – September 27, 2008

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM


Tap discretionary effort for innovation and success


It is often said that our people are our most important resource, our competitive edge.  At this critical time, it is our hardworking OFWs (again!) who are keeping our economy afloat.  In business, it is the ability of corporate leaders to tap discretionary efforts that spells success.


Author Casey Wilson (The Cornerstone of Engaging Leadership), describes the engaged individuals as leveraging their strengths and discretionary efforts to help themselves become high achievers.  "They proactively build relationships with others.  They demonstrate commitment to their own development and success, the success of others, and the success of their organization.  Engaged individuals have high aspirations and they work positively and proactively to better understand their assignments and excel in them.  When assignments are not available, they create work for themselves by volunteering for additional tasks.  They foster and facilitate conditions that contribute to their own success and that of others."


On the other hand, we have people who thrive on negativity—complaining and nagging.  Wilson say that these people give the minimum amount of effort possible because they perceive that nobody cares about them or what they do at work.   "They arrive each day, perform a little work—typically work of low quality—and promptly 'check out' of work .  Actively disengaged people are purposely contrary, often going against the grain.  They ignore feedback.  They let everyone knows about their unhappiness and some even try to perpetuate negativity in hopes of getting others to join them—sort of misery-loves-company perspective."


In between, we have the non-engaged individuals (puede na, sige lang, okay lang) who remain neutral whatever happens.  Wilson says that they do not invest much effort in going the extra mile for themselves nor for others.  "While they do not necessarily work against the organization, they do not proactively innovate or work to better it either.   Many just hang out, biding time day-in and day-out, simply riding the work wave.


"Looking at the percentages of people within a given workforce, there are a number of interesting points:

ü      Only about one-fourth of people are passionate, committed, and connected to their work.

ü      About one-fifth are working against their organizations through active disengagement.

ü      Over half of people are simply floating through their work days, not working against their organizations but also not feeling connected and committed.

ü      About here-fourths of people have some amount of discretionary effort they are not giving to their organization and leader.  Discretionary effort is the amount of energy kept in reserves that someone choose to use or not depending on how they feel about their work."


Every one of us has a reservoir of discretionary effort we can leverage deliberately, or not.  One thing amazing is that it is a renewable resource.  What we need are engaging leaders who can inspire our workforce to focus on goals and to achieve more.  Engaging leaders are those who build trust, understand unique personal motivations and differences, manage performance from a people-centric perspective and not simply task-oriented and create emotional connections between workforce and the work.


In Davao and here in Cebu, CD-R King is proving to be a big success.  You have to take a number and wait your turn to be served.  They even refused overflow customers,  "Sorry, we have no more number."  They used to sell only blank CDs and DVDs, now their tagline reads "your one-stop media provider."  They sell all sorts of camera and computer parts, accessories and supplies.  And their products carry their own brand name and logo.  They proudly attach their stickered logo to the packaging of other brands.  Ask any Cebuano or Davaoeno where to buy camera paraphernalia and they promptly lead you to CD-R King.  They must have teams of engaged workforce.  All of them seem to be enjoying their job and liking their customers.  


I must check them out when I get back to Manila next week.,




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