Your organization’s most important source of energy doesn’t come from the local power company. It comes from your relationships.
The dictionary defines energy as “the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity.” Its synonyms include enthusiasm, spirit, passion, drive, vigor and get-up-and-go. It’s the effort you want to give vs. being forced to give.
As reported in Harvard Business Review, researchers wanted to learn more about this vital organizational resource, and to find predictable ways to encourage it. They discovered that the most reliable source of this energy was interactions with coworkers.
Net positive or net negative?
In every human interaction, not counting strictly neutral encounters, there is basically one of two outcomes. One, you walk away feeling valued, supported, pumped up, informed or inspired. You’re ready to accomplish great things. Two, you feel worn down, annoyed, demoralized or threatened. You use a lot of energy trying to recover your emotional bearing and figuring out how to avoid that person in the future.
In most organizations, there are millions of these interactions a year; billions in some large corporations. Each interaction has a net positive or a net negative effect. The more positive interactions generated, the higher the organization’s level of engagement and results.
There’s an individual benefit to being an energy “transmitter.” The more people you energize, researchers found, the better you perform. It makes sense, since collaboration is increasingly key to success. People want to work with you. They are more likely to devote extra time to your projects, share ideas and give you their best.
Here are some tips from researchers about how to energize others. (They line up well with The FISH! Philosophy.)
1. Show people they matter
You don’t have to be naturally outgoing and charismatic to make people feel good. Even introverts can energize coworkers by being “fully present and attentive.” Show interest in their ideas and recognize their accomplishments. In other words, Be There and Make Their Day.
2. Offer a positive vision
Energizers are realistic and optimistic. They look for new possibilities rather than fixate on old problems. They look for the best in others and in their ideas. They care more about finding the right answer than being right themselves. They choose an attitude that inspires a feeling of progress and confidence.
3. Learn together
When we learn together, our thinking is expanded and we absorb knowledge more quickly. Researchers suggest forming lunch learning groups with like-minded coworkers to take online courses together, watch webinars or share stories that expand knowledge. Ask a colleague to be your coaching partner to help you grow, and vice-versa. Play is about learning from each other.
4. Focus on basics
Special events to boost spirits or show appreciation are fine. But day-to-day interactions make the biggest difference in maintaining energy and morale. Sports teams focus on small fundamentals in practice so they will show up naturally in critical situations. Focus on your daily relationship fundamentals first. The fruits of your consistency and commitment will follow.