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Discretionary effort is one’s work at peak performance minus the bare minimum job. Managers (especially today) are charged with eliciting output at levels congruent with the higher end of the productivity spectrum.

They are to accomplish this task in a way that enhances employee dignity, saves face for both parties, and treats the worker as an equal partner. A great manager inspires others to want to do their best work on a consistent basis. Employees who consistently produce a superlative product succeed because of him or her, not despite that person. A supportive/encouraging/respectful manager is a critical tool in companies’ arsenal against the competition.


Last week my Principles of Management RODP undergraduate students had some remarkable insights for how leaders should treat their employees. These are featured below:


Recognition is an important factor in encouraging motivation in the workplace. Simply recognizing that an employee is working hard can sometimes be enough for them to be motivated and perform in that manner repeatedly. If the employee is often recognized as a hard worker, then it should be considered that they are paid that way, therefore creating an incentive for those who might see that as an obtainable goal for them in the future.

Showing care for employees is perhaps one of the most important factors in the work environment. If employees know their manager cares, they are more likely to perform better (Robbins 2009, 362). When managers consistently put the same effort into caring for their employees as their employees put into their work, results will undoubtedly be exceptional for the organization [Conner Barnes].


“Rewarding a behavior with recognition immediately following that behavior is likely to encourage its repetition” (Robbins, 2009, pg. 359). This can show employees that they are valued and that their work is apprecaited. It’s good to give people a pat on the back if they are doing a good job every now and then to make them feel like they are liked in the company [David Moore].


According to a study in 2004 conducted by Harvard Business School, “85 percent of companies, our research finds, employees’ morale sharply declines after their first six months—and continues to deteriorate for years afterward” (Sirota, Mischkind, Meltzer, 2006). From my experience, some contributing factors include intimidation, no recognition, lack of cohesiveness among management and a lack of skill variety [Eboni Dowell].


No one wants to go to work everyday to a job where they know that their ideas, suggestions, and problems won’t be heard. Managers need open up the lines of communication among employees so that they can be aware of the needs and the ideas of employees. People will be more productive if they know that their voice will be heard and that their needs will be met. If you have a strong line of communication, it will boost morale, encourage teamwork and help establish good relationships between employees and management which will also help in establishing and accomplishing goals [Lacey Shelton].



Robbins, Stephen P., & Coulter, Mary (2009). Management (10th ed.). New Jersey: Pearson.


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All viewpoints expressed by Jackie Gilbert are her own, and not of her employer.

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