A nine-step action plan can refresh and boost the collective energy in your organisation, says Murray Furlong, head of UK solutions design at leadership development specialist Hemsley Fraser
Is your workplace buzzing with excitement, enthusiasm and positivity or is it smouldering with anxiety, lethargy and cynicism?
We each bring our own physical, mental and emotional energy to the workplace and, in every organisation, the accumulation of individual vitality forms a ‘collective energy’ which characterises the culture. The level of organisational energy is evident in the dynamics and interactions that occur between people. This not only provides an insight into the morale of employees, it also directly affects the bottom-line performance.
Positive energy in the workplace can inspire us to feel optimistic, confident and engaged. Negative energy can leave us feeling pessimistic, drained and unhappy. But you can’t force people to feel energised or inspired.
So how can busy leaders and managers motivate and invigorate people to unleash - and sustain - the organisational energy needed to achieve the strategic goals?
Here are nine ideas to consider:
Give people autonomy
The more managers see their role as making it easier for employees to do their job, the more energised and motivated the workforce will be. If people think no-one cares about them at work, if they can’t cope with their workload, their initiative is stifled or they’re shouldering responsibility without recognition, their energy level will inevitably be low. This may show itself in basic mistakes, negative body language, lateness or absenteeism. But when individuals are given some control over how they prioritise and undertake their role, they feel more valued and more energised. Trust employees to behave responsibly ,and empower and encourage them to do the job in their own way.
Enhance the physical environment of the workplace
Our working environment has a significant impact on our attitude, morale and energy level. Bright colours, plants, pictures and posters can all help to create a more vibrant and conducive environment. Learn from the example of companies such as Google, Fat Face and Innocent Drinks; their offices are creative settings with play areas, cafes, potted trees, picnic benches and communal ‘chill-out’ zones.
Role model energy
It’s important for leaders and managers to understand that their attitude, mood and energy level set the tone for everyone else in the business. If they’re tired, apathetic or withdrawn, it will soon cascade down, creating an unhelpful ripple effect on others. Leaders and managers must therefore lift themselves and set a positive example.
Create a sense of purpose and community
We are all more energised when we feel connected to those around us. Employees often understand what they have to do and how to do it - but not why. So make sure your company’s vision and values engage people and give them a common purpose. Be genuine and authentic in promoting and living your values.
When people feel their views are valued, they’re more likely to contribute and more likely to buy into the solution. So ask for their input. Announce that you’re looking for positive ways to improve the workplace and let people submit their ideas privately. Be prepared to fund any creative ideas that might enhance the energy level. Where possible, try to arrange social events during the workday or at lunchtime, as activities that intrude on people’s personal lives can sometimes feel like an imposition, not a perk.
Offer - and encourage - flexible working
Energy levels are affected by our health, wellbeing and lifestyle. Issues such as our diet, exercise patterns, how much we drink, whether we smoke and how well we sleep all have an impact. If you’re tired or unwell, your energy level will be impaired. Introducing flexible work options - and not penalising employees who take them up - can help to raise the workplace energy level.
Celebrate successes and create a sense of pride
The feeling of ‘winning’ can energise a workplace. Celebrate large and small wins. These celebrations do not have to be extravagant. Managers can also send out celebratory emails that showcase their team’s accomplishments - and the input of team members - to the business. When people are given recognition for a job well done, they feel energised and they take pride in their accomplishments. Employees who are passionate about what they’re doing will give more and produce better results.
Communicate openly and tell inspiring stories
Encourage managers to be positive in their communications and to always provide constructive criticism. Use your internal communications tools to tell stories of good work practice and customer successes to increase positive energy. Have regular one-to-one and team catch ups. Even if there are tough messages, be open and honest with employees.
Identify and meet people’s development needs
Employees will never feel energised at work if they don’t have the right knowledge or capability to do their jobs. Learning should be positively encouraged within the organisation because it directly influences not only the skills of employees but also their attitude and behaviour. Managers should look for development opportunities and help their team members to understand and build on their strengths.
These nine steps can rejuvenate morale and enhance productivity in the workplace. Some may require a fundamental change in your management philosophy - and specific development to help each manager undertake these actions more effectively. But, ultimately, this is a recipe for creating positive organisational energy and an inspiring place to work.
Murray Furlong can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information visit www.hemsleyfraser.co.uk