Charged up

Discretionary Energy is crucial for organizations to achieve superior performance. But how to fire it up? New Korn Ferry research offers a model.

All ambitious organizations try to achieve superior performance. Hospitals zero in on infection rates and patient outcomes. Public agencies attack red tape to widen access to much-needed services. Manufacturers ferret out inefficiencies with Six Sigma zeal.

But simply increasing the energy people expend on work doesn’t often top the strategy list. Although US corporations spend 20% to 45% of revenue on their people, they let talent development initiatives come and go. Strategic hires get frustrated and quit. Vision statements and culture change programs wither on the vine.

But the truth—and every CEO knows it—is that if an organization could harness just a fraction of its people’s Discretionary Energy, it would be a game-changer. And Korn Ferry’s Superior Performance Model shows organizations a framework for doing just that: generating more Discretionary Energy that can be channeled toward desired outcomes.

“We have looked at decades’ worth of our data, as well as published scientific research, to identify three essential Organizational Enablers and three People Drivers proven to affect outcomes such as revenue growth, market share, level of service, or client impact,” said Stu Crandell, senior vice president of the Korn Ferry Institute. “These are the master switches for CEOs and other top leaders to adjust to turn on the flow of Discretionary Energy.”

The three key Organizational Enables: Purpose and Vision, Choice and Focus, Accountability and Fairness. The three People Drivers: Clarity, Capability, and Commitment.

As Crandell explains, these Organizational Enablers and People Drivers intertwine and overlap in any workplace; an organization’s purpose will affect how easily it gains commitment, as just one example. But for its Superior Performance Model, the firm goes further and teases apart how organizations shape their environment (Organizational Enablers) from how they orchestrate getting the right people doing the right things (People Drivers).

“We believe the Superior Performance Model supports our contention that people power performance,” said Jean-Marc Laouchez, the firm’s global managing director, solutions. “We further know that organizations that can amplify the Discretionary Energy its leaders and employees expend will outperform their peers.”

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