What is your overall energy for work, right now? Do you bring a heightened level of energy to work each day? Do you experience an energy gain by the end of the day?
Energy is the raw material of employee engagement. Without energy we struggle to perform, avoid connecting with others, and may experience an overall loss of caring to the point where we become careless or even experience burnout.
Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz lead the charge for energy and engagement. Their 10 year old book entitled, The Power of Full Engagement is a classic. In the book, they declared that "energy, not time is the fundamental currency of high performance" and "performance, health and happiness are grounded in the skillful management of energy."
Multiple energies for multiple impacts
Although we tend to think of energy as a physical phenomenon, there are multiple energies: physical, mental, spiritual, organizational, emotional, and social.
We need vibrant physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy to maximize our individual contributions. These energies fuel us for work; and can help work become a source of fuel for these energies. And we have our energy heightened or depleted through the energy of relationships in the organization.
So it's imperative that we energize leaders for employee engagement. I'm not only referring to senior executives, directors, and managers; I am referring to anyone in the organization who influences the work of others.
Why? Because they have a disproportionate influence on engagement. Their own engagement is vital. And they can create a healthy, contagious energy through their interactions with others.
The paradox of energy and employee engagement
The paradox of engaged working is that it takes energy to initiate and sustain work and relationships. Yet there is often a return in positive energy from this effort.
I liken it to beginning an exercise program when you're out of shape. The first few times you exercise, you seem to lack the energy to even begin, and feel depleted when you're done. But if you persist, within a very short time, you start to feel energized by the exercise itself.
Sources and resources for energy
What are some of the sources and resources of energy for leaders?
Here are 12 ways you can energize leaders for greater employee engagement:
- Educate leaders to better understand the roles and functions of energy and engagement at work. This can range from providing coaching sessions or workshops to recommending a relevant blog post on energy and engagement.
- Help leaders determine the type of work that gives them the most energy, and enable and encourage them to structure their day to maximize this energizing work.
- Help leaders find their ideal engagement time intervals. What is the overall length of time that they can fully sustain energy and engagement for a task before their energy wanes? Often when we work within our engagement time intervals we still feel very engaged or energized at the end. Help leaders package more of their work into these ideal time intervals. These intervals can range from about six minute to 90 minutes. My personal ideal engagement time interval is 24 minutes.
- For sustainable energy, ensure periods of engagement and energy expenditure are balanced by periods of energy renewal and rejuvenation. Ensure these cycles occur on a daily basis, not just every six months in the form of a one week vacation.
- Invite leaders to learn to "tell energy." Anytime they look at a clock or watch, use this as a trigger to also get them to rate their energy on a scale of 1 to 10, where one represents very low energy and 10 represents very high energy. Once they've rated their energy level, they should ask themselves an energy booster question: What can I do right now to increase my energy level?
- Encourage moments of mindfulness at work. Much of our energy dissipates in relationship to the past and future. We can often find a well of energy when we are mindful of the present. This doesn't mean the leader has to close their eyes and meditate; it means becoming more aware and accepting of the current moment.
- Help leaders leverage progress for added energy. Assess and frame setbacks so they don't deplete the energy of leaders and their organizations. Give leaders good data on their progress. Progress energizes, while setbacks tend to reduce energy.
- Build a strong foundation of energized wellbeing by encouraging leaders to know their strengths, and use their strengths daily in the service of others and the organization.
- Encourage leaders to build a knowledge foundation of energy by reading and reflecting on Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz's book, The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal.
- Invite leaders to build energy through relationships by reading and practicing the approaches outlined in Jane E. Dutton's Energize Your Workplace: How to Create and Sustain High-Quality Connections at Work.
- Suggest leaders take a coffee break and watch the fourteen minute video: The Power of Human Energy: Angela Ahrendts at TEDxHollywood. Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, talks with a mix of passion and initial trepidation about the positive and transformative power of human energy. Human energy is the key to uniting companies and moving people forward.
- Help leaders stay current on the topic of energy by engaging in ongoing energy conversations based on the question Donald Graves, educational researchers and writer, asked teachers across America for an entire year: "What gives you energy, what takes it away, and what for you is a waste of time?" Increase what gives your leaders energy, minimize what takes it away, and help them eliminate what is truly a waste of time.
"We live as ripples of energy in the vast ocean of energy." ~ Deepak Chopra
Your turn: What do you think of these 12 ways to energize leaders? Anything I missed?