In my role, I have the opportunity to speak and work with very smart analysts in a number of firms. One topic that keeps coming up again and again in conversations and research is Energy. This has long been top of mind for my CEO, Eric Mosley, and myself as we firmly believe in the importance of energizing your workforce through strategic recognition.
Now firms like Towers Watson are discovering that employee engagement is not enough over time. You need Sustainable Engagement, which they define by two additional factors of Enablement and Energy (which I wrote about here).
A couple of weeks ago on a call with Mercer, Energy once again came up with the Mercer analyst describing Energy as something that can be seen and felt in an organization. It’s palpable. As the analyst put it on the call:
“While engagement (an emotional connection between the individual and the organization) is good, What are more interested in is a sense of urgency. Do people attack work or get through the day? Do they have that spring in their step as they go through accomplishing whatever it is that they’re working on?”
Part of creating urgency on a team is involving team members in all aspects of the work – the good and the bad. Terry Tietzen, founder and CEO of Edatanetorks, recently talked about creating urgency on a team in an interview in the New York Times “Corner Office” column:
“As a leader, you have to be part of the team, and you have to share the good, the bad and the ugly with everyone. They’ll rise to the challenge. When they know you’re having a bad day, they’ll want to try to help the team win. But if you don’t tell them, if you always tell them it’s just sugarplums, they’ll walk around in a fantasy land.”
Keeping up energy levels and a sense of urgency on priority projects requires helping employees realize progress in their work (the number factor of employee motivation, too, according to recent research). Mr. Tietzen speaks to how he helps his employees feel that progress:
“I have every team member send me an update every day. No matter where I am in the world, I get an update [of] simple, high-level things. What they set out to do today and what they plan to do tomorrow. That way, they can feel the progress. Part of the progress is being able to have them included in the journey, not just feeling isolated. They need to feel it like a wave. It comes up and down, and it’s never perfect. By sending me three or four bullets every day — what I did today, what I’m doing tomorrow — they see short-term goals much easier than feeling overwhelmed by a goal that might seem hard to imagine reaching. Innovation has to have short windows.”
Do you energize your team members by creating a sense of urgency and helping them realize progress?