Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Discretionary Energy

I just recently returned from Kennedy Information's 2007 Conference and Expo in Orlando. Not bad duty for lots of reasons such as Florida in November, a chance to catch up with lots of folks in the recruiting space who I had not seen for quite while, lots of great food and drink and two days of insights and "learnings" from some very knowledgeable presenters.

As is true in most cases when you have been away from your own office and find yourself out in the "real world" it is always interesting to reflect back on the experience. For me, that usually takes place on the plane ride home as you review your notes and try and remember what you heard.

As I went through this ritual on my flight back to Providence I kept wondering why I was feeling a bit depressed (or maybe it was cynical?) as the thought kept going through my mind that I had been attending conferences, seminars, and workshops of one flavor or another for more than 45 years! I guess that would be enough to make you feel depressed and cynical all by itself, but that really was not the driver.

What kept running through my mind was that the issues which we were discussing and exchanging ideas and opinions about were challenges that have been around for any and all of those 45 years and for which answers were still being sought. Now I knew why I was feeling the way I was.

For sure many of the technology tools available to employers that can be applied to both recruiting and/or retention are very cool, and when my cynical side kicks in I think "yes indeed it is, and it is now absolutely easier than ever to track your turnover." Point being, however, I don't want to have cool systems for tracking turnover, what I want, to the extent that I can, is to reduce turnover, all of which is a long way of getting to the point of all this - people sometimes will stay because they feel they have to, but what we all strive for is to have them stay because they want to.

Hardly a revolutionary thought, and it's not like we all don't understand this notion at least on an intellectual level. Creating and caring for a culture that fosters what one speaker, Alan Guarino summed up as 3 "E's" and a P. If you are curious in terms of not only what these are but want to know more about how he suggests they be applied in depth, you might want to pick u a copy of his book Smart Is Not Enough!: The South Pole Strategy and Other Powerful Talent Management Secrets.

If, however, you can't stand the wait, here is the cliff version:

Energy, Engagement, Empowerment and Pride. Not a new formula, but certainly one that if applied consistently (and therein lies the challenge) ought to buy an organization some profs for trying.

Unfortunately, I have not been clever enough to come up with such a neat acronym as Alan's three E's and a P, all I have ever come up with is thinking about what meant a lot to me when I was working my way through a career, and in that regard, I have to believe that I am not all that different than the next guy.

The bottom line was whenever I felt that the organization valued me and did things to make me feel I was really part of the enterprise, that's is when I was motivated to expend what Alan kept referring to as "discretionary energy."

I don't know if Alan coined the phrase or borrowed it from someone else, but it was a new one to me, and for sure I am going to remember it because as we all know, that is the ultimate driver of real productivity and commitment. It is that feeling that fills be gap between "have to" and "want to."

Thanks Alan, well said.

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