My posts this month, and even the articles highlighted in my newsletter have dwelled upon relationships a lot. This recognizes that the fundamental building block to effective work production and customer satisfaction is people who work well together.

People must be engaged in and excited about their jobs, and direct their energy and commitment to ensure happy customers. If all of their energy and work commitment is tied up in dealing with unpleasant relationships with coworkers, there is not a lot of energy left over for serving customers. Or, in a worse scenario, the negativity an employee feels about coworkers flows over into their relationship and interaction with the person they exist to serve – the customer.

Discretionary Energy Rules

There is a concept called discretionary energy. This is the energy that an employee chooses to exert in service to coworkers or customers at work – or not. An employer pays for the fundamental tasks that he hires an employee to perform. The employee’s willingness to perform above and beyond the basic requirements of the job is a reflection of the employee’s willingness to engage his or her discretionary energy.

As an example, Mary serves customers in a retail store. She escorts customers to a dressing room in which the customer tries on clothing. When the customer is finished, Mary puts the clothes away and brings the customer back to the floor while offering any additional assistance. An employee who is empowered, happy, and committed to her work takes the service one step further. She uses her discretionary energy to better serve the customer and to improve her employer’s sales.

Mary, using her discretionary energy, asks the customer whether she can bring her an item that isn’t working in another size or color. She escorts the customer to the floor and suggests additional items, that might work for the customer, based on what the customer appears to have liked already.

Mary remembers to give the customer a coupon for an upcoming sale or offers to match the prices of the sale that begins tomorrow. You can’t pay people enough to remember to go the extra mile, but you can produce a work environment in which your employees will choose to exert that discretionary energy.

From an employer’s point of view, the more employee discretionary energy that you can tap, the better the potential for well-served customers. You also increase your potential for happy employees. A happy employee is positively interacting with customers and coworkers and experiencing all of the work benefits that accrue as a result of these positive interactions.

Image Copyright Diane Diederich

More About Tapping Discretionary Energy

  • Top 10 Ideas About What Employees Want From Work.
  • You Can Make Their Day: Ten Leader Tips.
  • Why Managers are Key to Motivation.

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Draw Out Discretionary Energy originally appeared on Human Resources on Monday, February 22nd, 2010 at 13:23:13.

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