The holy grail of high performance is keeping one's energy high and it is hard enough keeping our own energy tapped and even harder to tap the energy of others. No matter how motivated we may be, we all run out of gas from time to time. Motivation theory has many different explanations for how to keep energy high, but a consistent theme includes finding something you care about and are interested in to encourage you to burn the midnight oil.
The concept of "discretional energy" is one that has received a lot of attention in the workplace and may be described as energy employees have at their disposal that they choose to deploy (or not) in the workplace. No rocket science here; we are motivated by things we are interested in and we likely allocate more of our focus and energy on those things. The part that may be rocket science, is how do you engage employees individually, or as a group to utilize their discretional energy? Making it even more important is that discretional energy is estimated in some circles to be as high as 30% of one's total efforts! Deploying one's discretional energy is a win-win on a couple of fronts; firstly, more productivity, secondly, the employee enjoys what they are doing.
We are constantly working with groups to look at various factors to move their organizations forward and that includes aligning people with the right work, creating clarity of roles and expectations, but also, sometimes assigning special projects where appropriate. In my recent work in supporting organization development and a specific two-day team retreat we did just that. In order to create cohesion and consistency in our program, we decided we needed an emcee for the event and our first order of business was looking for the right person. What was more challenging was that the duties were above and beyond regular work so we had to make sure the duties were a great fit.
We ended up choosing an outgoing leader in the group who was happy to take on the duties. Not only did she take on the duties, she was outstanding and excited to fill the role. In addition to participating in the planning for the retreat, she stayed up late scouring the internet looking for videos, jokes and generally creating a winning program that engaged and delighted our team! Would she have been so open to taking attendance or a spreadsheet collecting feedback on the day? Likely not.
It is easy to take a view that people get paid to put in 100% and they should generate their own energy, but we all KNOW this is not human nature no matter how much integrity or work ethic someone has. Great leaders understand human behaviour, leadership and motivation and use it as a fulcrum for moving their organizations forward. It is easy to train people on technical skills, but more difficult to lead them to high-performance without a deliberate strategic approach. Do you have those skills? do your leaders? we can help.