As my life is dull, boring and friendless I am forced to spend much time watching television and so it came to pass that I recently happened upon a channel that was airing an interview with the CEO of one of the largest companies on the planet.
I missed the first part of the interview so I don’t know his name nor the name of the company he CEOs.
I was just about to flip to the cartoon channel when he said something that caught my attention and I remained riveted to the rest of the interview.
He said that there are many things necessary to happen for a company to be sustainably great but there is one that stands out more than all the others and, without which no company will ever achieve greatness.
He continued on to say that if the senior management of a company wish to build a great, flourishing and growing organization – and sustain its greatness – they must learn to instil in their employees a passion for discretionary effort.
Discretionary effort is defined as effort that is put forth for which there is no expectation of reward (exceeding a quota, coming in on a weekend to finish a project, starting early, leaving late etc.) and for which there is no fear of punishment or reprisal if not undertaken.
In other words, this is effort that you, the employee, choose to deliver to your organization that is outside of any expectation or job requirement.
Ya do it because ya just wanna do it.
He further explained that he believed that his biggest responsibility, and that of his most senior executives, is to create, perpetuate and sustain an environment of “I just wanna” throughout his organization.
And that in order to achieve this objective every vice-president, general manager, division head, area manager, local manager, department head, and frontline supervisor – everyone in the organization who has at least one direct report – must clearly understand, and commit to, their role in creating this environment and spreading it throughout the organization.
They work hard to maintain the culture they have so clearly articulated throughout the company. It’s a culture of respect, politeness, honouring commitments, communication, clear expectations, positive reinforcement, personal growth and development, peer recognition, transparency, teamwork, unity and a clear focus on the common goal.
It’s a culture that does not tolerate rudeness, bullying, abuse, dishonesty, name calling, sexism, gossip, harassment, oversized egos, divas or any of the much errant behaviour prevalent in so many organizations.
He said there are two types of employees in the workplace – those who come to work willingly and those who come to work grudgingly.
The willing employees feel they are a part of something. They have a sense of ownership in what they do and are excited about being a part of it. The grudging ones come to work because they have to.
The willing employees deliver vast amounts of discretionary effort. The grudging ones live to what is called The Maximum/Minimum Rule. The maximum effort they will deliver is the minimum necessary to avoid drawing negative attention to themselves.
And people who love coming to work will always deliver discretionary effort.
He concluded by saying that there is a powerful business case to be made for companies to focus positively on their people first, before anything else, and that, in his opinion those that don’t are managed by fools.
I was so impressed by this man I immediately sent him an email in which I paid him the highest compliment possible.
I told him that I thought he was so good, so exceptional, so brilliant, so talented that he should quit his job and become a consultant.
After all, there is one thing that I’m sure we all agree that the world definitely needs.
Till we read again.