The famous equation for The Theory of General Relativity is E = mc2 – or energy (E) being equal to the mass (m) of a body times the speed of light (c) squared.
However, there is another interpretation of this set of letters and numbers; one that applies keenly to leaders and managers in businesses looking to increase the energy within their organisation.
The right energy
Defining energy is notoriously difficult, but we have all experienced days where our energy is through the roof or indeed, through the floor.
If you lack energy, even the most basic tasks are draining and a source of friction. In the workplace, this not only saps productivity but can also spiral into serious issues between colleagues as projects fall behind.
What does ‘high energy’ look like?
By comparison, in a state of high energy, you can deliver incredible results, yield new ideas and prolific innovation, complete complex tasks with apparent ease and deliver huge value to the business.
As an employee, manager or leader, you are the same person, the only thing that has changed is the energy, so what is it?
How is energy defined?
The textbook definition of energy is ‘the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity’. The crucial point in this definition is that the context of this strength and vitality is to be focused on an actual task – the Greek root of ‘energy’ (energia) means ‘within work’.
Modern work has a series of familiar rituals, that can be at odds with this energy. Weekly meetings, quarterly reviews and annual appraisals. And of course, the ever-present background hum of email and a mobile phone filled with work-related messages. Because PowerPoint rarely incites passion, it can be all too easy to feel energy drain away.
What’s the best type?
Getting the right energy within a team or across a business starts by matching the strengths and passions of the staff to the specific jobs that drive these rituals.
This can be tricky because businesses typically allocate people into roles to jobs based on what they can do. Whilst it is important to ensure someone is competent at a given task, it is equally important to realise that an ability to do something is not an affinity for that task. This necessitates an initial audit to match the energy of a staff to the strategy of the business going forward.
Management: more of the right energies
Talk of ‘audits’ and ‘matching people to tasks’ clearly shows that managing energy within a business does require some form of discipline.
We can classify energy into one of four categories; specifically, how energy affects us physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. In the modern workplace, businesses are already keenly aware of the role of good practice when it comes to physical elements.
One of the most recent examples of this has been the UK government green paper recommending a certain amount of sleep each night.
Mental health has also made huge strides in the workplace – from initiatives such as our own Talk It Out, to the growth of Mental Health Awareness Week, businesses now realise the vital importance of the ability to address stress, anxiety and depression in the workplace. But mental health is not just about fixing what is wrong – it is about building on what is right.
Issues of emotional and spiritual energy are less well addressed in many businesses. Whilst work does (and should) incite a strong emotional connection for some people, in some roles, the reality is that this is not always possible.
And by spiritual energy, we refer to this emotional connection taken to its peak where there is such a profound connection between the personal and the activity being undertaken that it can be considered more than just what they are doing. But not everyone can be lost in what they do.
By ‘culture squared’ we refer to the idea of how the culture of a business acts upon the organisation to entrench and then reassert the personality of that company that defines the environment in which people are working.
Culture should be dynamic and develop as the business grows and evolves, but a company without energy will remain static and resist this change.
By comparison, a company that proactively manages energy will typically have a culture of growth and continual development.
Keep staff motivated
One example of this at work can be seen in annual reviews. They are designed to keep people motivated and aligned to the objectives of a business, yet research shows that they don’t seem to meaningfully improve performance at all and if anything can be detrimental.
By focusing on the positives of what has been done well and what could be done better next time, all employees can learn, grow as a person and – critically – remove any of the anxiety that comes with now knowing how they are performing.
Regardless of position, when someone takes ownership of finding out how they are performing, they grow as a result. Multiplied across an entire business, this can be transformational.