Organisational Change Management Volume 2

24. Energy Levels

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Introduction

. Most employees are working longer hours and pushing themselves harder than ever before. The core problem with working longer hours is that time is a finite resource; energy, on the other hand, is a different story

. Energy is

"...defined in physics as the capacity to work, energy comes from four main wellsprings in human beings: the body, emotions, mind, and spirit. In each, energy can be systematically expanded and regularly renewed by establishing specific rituals - behaviours that are intentionally practised and precisely scheduled, with a goal of making them unconscious and automatic as quickly as possible..."

Tony Schwartz, 2007

. Many employees are significantly overweight, eat poorly, lack a regular exercise routine, work long hours and survive on minimal sleep, ie less than 8 hours

. Organisations invest in developing staff's skills, knowledge and competence. On the other hand, very few organisations investigate sustaining their staff's capacity, ie energy

The body (physical energy)

. It is well known that inadequate nutrition, exercise, sleep and rest diminish people's basic energy levels. Furthermore, they affect people's ability to manage their emotions and focus their attention

. There is a need to complete an energy questionnaire (see Volume 3) to provide a baseline which will identify areas for improvement such as missing breakfast, failing to express appreciation to others, struggling to focus on one thing at a time, spending too much time on activities that lack sense of purpose, etc

Emotions (quality of energy)

. Most people perform best and have more control of their emotions when they have positive energy

. Confronted with relentless demand and unexpected challenges, people tend to slip into negative emotions (fight-or-flight mode), ie

"...they become irritable and impatient, or anxious and insecure. Such states of mind drain people's energy and cause friction in their relationships. Fight-or-flight emotions also make it impossible to think clearly, logically, and reflectively. When executives learn to recognize what kinds of events trigger their negative emotions, they gain greater capacity to take control of their reactions..."

Tony Schwartz, 2007

The mind (focus of energy)

. Multitasking is part of being an executive. Yet it undermines productivity as distractions are costly, ie

"...a temporary shift in attention from one task of another - stopping to answer an e-mail or take a phone call, for instance - increases the amount of time necessary to finish the primary task by as much as 25%, a phenomenon known as 'switching time'. It is far more efficient to fully focus for 90 to 120 minutes, take a true break, and then fully focus on the next activity. We refer to these work periods as 'ultradian sprints'..."

Tony Schwartz, 2007

. Need to focus on activities that have the most long-term leverage. One way to do this is to prioritize the most important/urgent activities each day.

. Some ways to reduce interruptions include

- not taking phone calls/emails when in meetings

- restricting phone calls/emails to set times during the day unless an emergency

- have a room devoid of phones, etc so that individuals can concentrate on the task at hand

The human spirit (energy for meaning and purpose)

. People give their most when the activities they perform are consistent with what they value most and with what gives them a sense of meaning and purpose. While performing these activities, they feel more positive energy, focus better, and demonstrate greater perseverance.

. To access the energy of the human spirit, you need to clarify priorities under 3 categories

i) doing what you do best and enjoy most

To help people discover their areas of strength, ask them to remember activities when they felt effective, effortlessly adsorbed, inspired and fulfilled so that they can understand what energized them so positively and what specific talents they were using. Then encourage people to establish a ritual that will help them do more of these activities.

ii) consciously allocating time and energy to areas of your life that are important to you, such as work, family, health, community, etc

To close the gap between what people say is important and what they actually do, you need to develop rituals, such as if family is important, do not take work home and allocate time for family only

iii) living your core values in your daily behaviours

Values drive our behaviours (including decisions) more than rules, regulations, laws, etc. The right values drive people to be authentic, take ownership, be accountable, more transparent, etc; it drives a better outcome for all stakeholders including customers. Social media customers are better informed, more discerning than ever before

To help to understand what you stand for and want to be, you need to ask the following questions

"...what are the qualities that you find most off-putting when you see them in others?..."

Tony Schwartz, 2007

By describing what you cannot stand, people unintentionally describe the values that they stand for, eg stinginess, always late, etc

NB What you do best and what you enjoy most are not necessarily mutually inclusive

Summary

"...the implicit contract between organisations and their employees today is that each will try to get as much from the other as they can, as quickly as possible, and then move on without looking back.....is mutually self-defeating. Both individuals and the organisations they work for end up depleted rather than enriched. Employees feel increasingly beleaguered and burned-out. Organisations forced to settle for employees who are less than fully engaged and to constantly hire and train new people to replace those who choose to leave..."

Tony Schwartz, 2007

. People need to recognize the cost of energy-depleting behaviours so that they can change them by

- getting more sleep (go to bed earlier rather than sleeping in longer ‐ see earlier part on sleep),

- reduce alcohol consumption (1 to 2 glasses per day with alcohol free days),

- exercise more (to provide mental and emotional break that allows the creative path of the brain (right hemisphere) to dominate)

- lose weight, (most executives are overweight)

- take brief but regular breaks (the length of the break is less important than the quality, ie need to disengage from your work and do something different. This is based on Ultradian Rhythms, ie

"...90 to 120 minute cycles during which our bodies slowly move from a high-energy state into a physiological trough. Toward the end of the cycle, the body begins to crave a period of recovery. The signals include physical restlessness, yawning, hunger......but many of us ignore the signs and keep working. The consequence is that our energy reservoir - our remaining capacity - burns down as the day wears on..."

Tony Schwartz, 2007

- eat sensibly (have a good breakfast with light snacks during the day so that glucose levels stabilize rather than peaking and troughing from large meals), etc

- establish renewal rooms (where people can go to relax and recharge themselves; subsidise gym memberships)

- deep abdominal breathing (inhaling and exhaling slowly for five to six seconds induces relaxation and recovery, and eliminates fight or flight response by "buying time")

- expressing appreciation to others (this fuels positive emotions to both the giver and receiver)

- modify the stories around people to generate a positive spin (often people cast themselves in the role of the victim by blaming others for external circumstances. There are 3 ways or lenses through which to see the world in a more positive framework, ie

i) reverse lens

How would the other person see things?

ii) long lens

How will I most likely view this situation in six months' time?

iii) wide lens

Regardless of the outcome of this issue, how can I grow and learn from it?

(source: Tony Schwartz, 2007)

 

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