The rewards of high energy cultures can’t be denied. Below we explain the benefits of building a high energy culture, define what energy is, and show how harnessing it can accelerate culture change to rapidly realize the performance benefits.
The Benefits of Strong Culture are Undeniable
Studies show that building a strong culture can drive some very impressive metrics. In a study released in July 2018 conducted by Gallup, it was shown that a great culture can:
- Attract the top 20% of candidates
- Reduce absenteeism by 41%
- Cut safety incidents by 70%
- Improve customer loyalty by 10%
- Lift productivity by 17% and
- Deliver 21% higher profitability
That’s difficult to ignore. But positive shifts in culture can seem glacial – often taking years – and the metrics seem even slower to materialize. Many companies try to get there quickly by making disruptive moves. The standard quick fix is to “shake things up” by firing leaders, reorganizing, right sizing or instituting process changes far too quickly and without the right kind of high energy employee engagement. These practices tend to cause more damage by creating an atmosphere of fear, blame, mistrust and insecurity which ultimately have undesired opposite impacts on the energy in organizations. The result can be a toxic culture that we’ve all seen: high turn-over, low engagement, slow productivity gains, absenteeism, difficulty attracting and keeping top talent and profitability that shareholders aren’t happy with.
What is Energy in Organizations and How is it Created?
Energy is a word that has worked its way into our everyday language to describe people, groups or environments. Instinctively we know when we are in the presence of a person, a team or a workplace that feels like it has energy. And we all know those people and situations that seem to suck the energy right out of us as though we have no soul left, momentarily. When we feel negative energy we avoid it whenever we can. When we feel positive energy we are attracted and want more of it. Positive energy in social networks is contagious by this simple human law of attraction. Energizing people and cultures have clearly recognizable and measurable traits. These traits, when they are at the optimal level (i.e. not too little and not too much) can lead to highly energetic people and work places.
The five traits are:
There is a vision that is clear and compelling; one that creates enthusiasm and a willingness to commit effort to achieve it.
The vision must be inspiring and meaningful – worthy of the time and effort that will be committed. It must also be future-focused. That is, there is a genuine belief that the future will be better than the present or past if the objectives are attained. A sense of hope and optimism should permeate from the vision.
People are mentally engaged and have the ability to contribute meaningfully.
Highly energetic people invite others to problem-solve with them in ways that make them feel heard and their ideas respected, considered and incorporated.
Active, constructive, candid and supportive conversations are the norm among team mates.
A high energy culture has conversations among employees that are typified by
- animated discussion
- building and feeding off of others’ ideas
- contributing without ego to the efforts of the overall team
- people speak their minds; they are open and respectfully candid; there are no hidden agendas
- laughter, play and comaraderie
There is a sense of progress.
There is a plan or a road map for achieving progress. The plan may be flexible, however a route is in place. Supporting this road map are two essential elements of success:
- People do what they say they are going to do; they fulfill their commitments and often go beyond what was expected.
- Progress however small is tracked, recognized and celebrated.
Self-determination, creativity and flexibility is the hallmark of the way work gets done.
People generate ideas, are open to learning and applying new knowledge; progress may come in unexpected ways. As such, solutions are not predetermined or prescribed, instead they are created by the team, are willingly adopted and remain flexible and adaptable to achieve results.
How to build and harness energy to shift to a high performance culture
Energy maps of your organization are a particularly effective tool to see the sources of existing energy in your company and to rapidly build on them. An energy map, like the one we created for a client in the entertainment industry below, is based on our science-based proprietary measurement model. The people in the organization that currently have the highest levels of energy are shown as darker green dots and the work-networks are indicated by the closeness and size of each person shown on the map. Individuals who are sources of low energy are shown in grey.
Every organization and their energy map is unique, and so are their opportunities and issues to be addressed. Regardless of your specific map, there are several things can be done to harness and accelerate the spread of energy in your organization. The goal is to make high levels of energy a characteristic of every part of the organization and how it operates; shifting you to a high-energy culture to achieve better performance.
1. Define a meaningful and compelling vision and purpose.
The single most compelling thing you can do to raise the level of energy in your organization is to define a vision that is compelling and meaningful to your clients and your people alike. It is important that there not only be a vision for the organization as a whole but that each work team has a more specific vision and a set of clear future-focused objectives for themselves. These team-based objectives need to align with the overall aims of the enterprise and the needs of its clients and stakeholders.
2. Identify and leverage your super-energizers.
Super energizers are at the center of the energy network and success. We know that energy is infectious – it spreads like a contagion. Use your super-energizers to:
- Lead and populate agile teams or other key initiatives that are central to the success of the organization.
- Become mentors, coaches and leaders of others
- Take on roles that enable them to work with larger numbers of individuals and teams
- Consider them for roles that are closer to clients and the front line if they are in roles that are more deeply embedded in the organization.
- Where there are pockets of de-energizers, consider having one or more energizers take on influential roles within those teams.
3. Map and track the energy in your organization at regular intervals.
Energy levels shift and change within organizations. In order to maintain and promote high levels of performance, it’s important to recognize and address these changes quickly.
4. Educate and train your teams how to recognize and address their own energy levels.
Self-awareness among your employees will allow them to self-diagnose and correct behaviour in the company. Giving employees proven ways to lift and boost their own energy levels when it feels like it needs to be lifted can reinforce a high energy culture.
For more information, tools and advise about how to measure, map, leverage and heighten the energy in your organization, please reach out to enrgy.com.