Good Enough vs. Above and Beyond - [website] Email Print
Published: 19th of Feb 2021 by: Staff Writer

What is Discretionary Effort and does it really make a difference?

Discretionary effort is essentially what we give when we go above and beyond that which we have been mandated to do

It's what turns average or good enough into excellent. We choose to put in that bit extra - it's a personal choice and not something we've been instructed to do.

And yes! It makes a huge difference to how we feel about ourselves and how others perceive us.

So what does Discretionary Effort look like?
In application, It can look something like this:

Anne is compiling the packs for the management meeting. She has gathered all the reports and has just enough time before the end of the day to staple them together. She does this with one of the sets, but feels it looks messy; in addition, because the bunch is so thick, the staple doesn't quite manage to keep the last few pages together.

But so what? The previous PA, Gill, always just stapled them and no one has ever moaned. Her attitude was: "Do what's expected of you and no more - that way you don't end up with more work!"

But Anne is cut from a different cloth. She is someone who has pretty high standards. She has a great amount of respect for her boss and wants to ensure he looks good, so she decides to bind each of the sets and eventually leaves work 30 minutes after closing time. The meeting packets look extremely professional and she is extremely satisfied with what she achieved.

She has put in discretionary effort and her reward is the knowledge that she's made a difference which will be noticed.

Jokes aside, going the extra mile is all about getting out what you put in.

If you're disengaged enough to work to rule, you're going to end up disliking your job and yourself. You see, it's not only the company that benefits when you give that little bit more, your self-image also stands up and takes a bow! We feel good when we do good!! (Excuse the incorrect grammar, but it reads well!)

So next time you think good enough is actually enough, ask yourself if you'd like an employee of yours to exhibit this type of attitude. If not, stop selling yourself short - it's immensely satisfying when you meet your own high standards!

Staff Training is a South African soft skills training provider with more than 60 workshops on offer.

Email us at for more info or give us a call at 0861 996 660

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