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Supporting organisations to bridge the gap between strategy and action at moments of change, making sense and shaping conversations with Big Pictures.

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Filtering by Tag: discretionary effort

Are there some things that money can’t buy?

amy morton

sandel.jpg

Today, almost everything is up for sale. So says Michael J Sandel in his book “What money can’t buy”. The question is, says Sandel, do we want to live like this? Are there some things where it just isn’t appropriate to pay money for them? How about buying a prison cell upgrade (apparently a nicer cell costs you $82 a night in Santa Ana, California)? Or buying the right to shoot an endangered black rhino (yours for $150,000 in South Africa)?

Sandel makes the case that whether or not something should be up for sale depends on how we value it. Would buying and selling it somehow corrupt or degrade its nature? If so, then maybe it shouldn’t be traded for money.

The book got me thinking about the things that money can’t buy. In our work we get a privileged look into the world of our clients and the relationship between employer and employee. When employees “go the extra mile” it’s not because of their pay cheque. You can’t pay your employees to give something that is, by its very nature, discretionary.

Who are you really doing it for?

paul stroud

 

Employee engagement initiatives can often be motivated by a desire to increase performance. The hope is that staff will reciprocate the care shown to them and want to commit to going the extra mile. 

However, a desire for increased discretionary effort to improve performance can seem self-serving to staff and undermine any genuine care for their wellbeing. This can result in cynicism and distrust, the expectation of more discretionary effort becoming a contradiction in terms. If a gesture of care and commitment from the leadership is perceived by staff as fake, the impact on trust and goodwill may be quite counterproductive, increasing the likelihood of disengagement that could lead to a lowering of performance. 

So, before starting an engagement or change activity, ask yourself: who are you really doing it for?