Effective Coaching Releases Employee Discretionary Energy


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Discretionary Energy

What is discretionary energy? Discretionary energy is the energy an employee uses when going above and beyond the call of duty to complete a task or get the job done. Every employee has discretionary energy. The amount of energy released and employed at work depends on their attitude, how well they enjoy being at work, how they are treated and how they feel about the company.

Discretionary energy can be the difference between doing what is expected and performing in an outstanding manner.

Therefore, telling a person what he is doing wrong is not specific enough.

Eliminating undesirable behavior without providing a new substitute pattern leaves the worker open to learn another undesirable set of responses and will encourage him to withhold his discretionary energy.

It is better to comment on improvement in performance than to comment on the employee’s failure to meet goals.

This can be accomplished by:

  • Frequent feedback

  • Reinforcing small approximations to the desired goal, gradually increasing the number of steps necessary to obtain the positive reinforcement

  • Evaluations should be given for good performance and without too much time delay

  • Employees deserve to know how they are doing no less than on a monthly basis

    To see how this principle is applied to coaching, assume you were on a ride-a-long with a salesman and you just concluded a sales call. You observed the salesman neglected to ask for the order when making a closing statement. If in this critique you mention to the salesman that he did not use the skill correctly you would, in fact, be punishing the salesman.

    A much better approach would be to use the concept of self-feedback. In other words, allow the salesman to self-critique the use of his skills. In the above example, assume the salesman used the supporting skill correctly. You would apply the positive reinforcement technique as previously discussed. Next, ask the salesman to repeat his closing statement as best he can recall.

    You might say, “Can you remember the closing statement you made? I wonder if you could repeat it. ”

    Several things may happen here. First, the salesman may repeat the statement and realize on his own he neglected to ask for the order – a self-realization. At this point ask him to ask for the order and positively reinforce his response. On the other hand, the salesman may not realize he used the skill incorrectly, even after repeating it. In this case ask the salesman what he thinks he could do to improve on the closing.

    Confirm understanding and ask the salesman to make another closing statement. Once again positively reinforce after correct skill usage. By utilizing this method you avoid falling in the trap of the “Psychological Sandwich. ” That is, after the salesman received praise he is now waiting for the axe to fall, the praise becoming the antecedent to negative consequence.

    Dr. Rick Johnson (rick@ceostrategist.com) is the founder of CEO Strategist LLC. an experienced based firm specializing in leadership for wholesale distribution. CEO Strategist LLC. works in an advisory capacity with company executives in board representation, executive coaching, team coaching and education and training to make the changes necessary to create or maintain competitive advantage. You can contact them by calling 352-750-0868, or visit http://www.ceostrategist.com for more information.

    Rick received an MBA from Keller Graduate School in Chicago, Illinois and a Bachelor's degree in Operations Management from Capital University, Columbus Ohio. Rick recently completed his dissertation on Strategic Leadership and received his Ph. D. He’s also a published book author with four titles to his credit: “The Toolkit for Improved Business Performance in Distribution, ” the NWFA & NAFCD “Roadmap”, Lone Wolf-Lead Wolf—The Evolution of Sales” and a fiction novel “Shattered Innocence. ” Rick’s next book due in November is titled; Lone Wolf – LEad Wolf The Evolution of Leadership

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