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Passion and motivation lead people to go above & beyond in their work and not just meticulously follow instructions so they can arrive and leave at precisely their agreed working hours.

When the passion "carrots" are missing, I was wondering if it might be possible to somehow include the above & beyond factor in the instructions themselves, so that employees see a "stick" that constantly pushes them beyond just checklist-ticking.

I can think of numerous occasions on which I myself was never really passionate about something, but still went above and beyond just because I had that internal voice reminding me that the first to leave during layoffs are those who get their job done but never really add anything new and original. I don't think sharing that strategy might be a very kind thing to do.

I guess the main problem is that "above & beyond" cannot be quantified in an instruction, unless something like: "Lay out a plan within (your area of specialization) where you explore an entirely original strategy to help our department generate more profit than without that plan."

How can I write instructions so that employees don't just tick boxes, but always go above and beyond?

closed as primarily opinion-based by nadyne, gnat, CMW, Rhys, Ricketyship Feb 17 '14 at 12:17

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Hi Raj, why don't the answers in your other question here answer this question? Some users already mentioned what you have to do: Hire good people who are intrinsically motivated. – jmort253 Feb 16 '14 at 7:01
  • Jmosrt, two answers: first, this is a question specifically about the instruction-writing process rather than a more generic question about strategies and approaches. Secondly, there can be situations where no matter what it is very unlikely for anyone to be intrinsically motivated about the job. As I mention here, I am not and yet I can go above and beyond with the right pressure. – RajBarge Feb 16 '14 at 7:09
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    I just don't see writing instructions as something that would ever motivate people. Navy SEALs, for instance, don't go through months of intense training just because some manager somewhere wrote an email. Hope this helps. – jmort253 Feb 16 '14 at 7:15
  • It is not above and beyond if that is the performance youexpect. Itis irrational to expect aabove and beytond form all employees. It is however rational to expect that employees who are not totally busy do more more and it is your job to assign it to them and give them tighter dealines if this is happeneing. – HLGEM Feb 16 '14 at 20:48
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    Ha! I've been in jobs where going above and beyond is like putting your head above the parapet to be shot off in the next round of layoffs. Possibly your employees have experienced that as well and were more effective in learning to shut it off than I was. – Amy Blankenship Feb 16 '14 at 23:58
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You are already encouraging a 'tick the boxes' approach'.

How are you doing this? By writing instructions.

I'm assuming that you want your employees to do something, so you are writing something down to tell them what to do. That's your first mistake, if you want out-of-the-box thinking or more than just doing-what's-needed. You first change should be to stop writing down what they are to do, and instead tell them what you want them to achieve.

So (to invent an example) instead of saying "you need to compile the server problem log into a spreadsheet each day, identify any server with more than five faults, and change the parameters to correct those faults", tell them "I want you to assess each server performance at the end of the day and make any changes to improve the reliability as much as possible". See what they come up with. You may need to use the server problem log as an example.

There is a slight downside of this in that they may occasionally do something that makes stuff worse, but that's a price you will need to pay if you want to encourage out-of-the-box thinking.

Fostering a culture of going above and beyond is also important (what I wrote above is part of that) and so is makeing sure that those who go the extra mile are appropriately praised and rewarded.

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This isn't a matter of simply what to write.

You need to foster a culture where going above and beyond is appreciated and expected.

This could be appropriately renumerating those who go above and beyond, verbal encouragement, or allowing people the freedom to take the initiative to take their own direction on a project that ultimately benefits the business.

  • And hiring the right sport of people who will do that. – Neuromancer Feb 16 '14 at 14:39
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    You should under no circumstances foster a culture where going above and beyond is expected. That is a very bad way to manage. It is not above and beyond if it is the expectation. Expecitng people to work more hours or work at a continually higher level is a recipe for exhaused, burned out employees who make serioes errors. Abocvve and beyond is nice but you wuill never get it from more than a small percentage of employees. – HLGEM Feb 16 '14 at 21:02

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