Unfortunately, research shows that as managers we can unwittingly destroy an employee’s sense of meaning with our behaviors that correspondingly drain a sense of certainty, completion, confidence, or community. When this happens, employees seek to migrate the derivation of meaning to alternative pockets as part of an “internal balancing act.” The shocking loss of meaning at work is energy draining; alternative sources of energy are correspondingly and desperately sought. Such is the impact of a manager’s corrosive behavior on the energy flow of an organization. In fact, it is helpful to think of an organization’s energy as expressed within a formula – a formula that serves as a useful conceptual tool. 1
The Organizational Energy Formula
Et = E1 +/- E2 – E3
The formula reads like this: The total energy that an organization has (Et) is equal to the energy of the employee (E1) plus or minus the energy the manager brings to the table (E2: the manager can be a positive or negative ion), minus the forces that drain the energy of the organization (E3).
So the idea is to ensure that you are contributing only positive ions to the energy formula, and helping to neutralize the negative ions of energy that can gain critical mass all around you in the organization.
Of course, bring all the positive energy you can to the job and to those around you. But also ask yourself these four questions to ensure you are not unknowingly sapping the organization’s energy:
- Am I adding to the sense of certainty others feel in their jobs, or detracting from it? (Do I provide clear vision and direction?)
- Am I adding to the sense of completion others feel in their work, or detracting from it? (Are you allowing others to complete their work without changing direction, giving them autonomy to do so?)
- Am I adding to each person’s sense of confidence, or destroying it? (with overly critical behaviors or lack of showing appreciation?)
- Am I adding to the sense of community felt, or violating it? (with callous, withdrawn, or inauthentic behaviors?)
Our job as managers is to control variables in the Organizational Energy Formula such that it becomes an equation for a winning, meaning-rich, and fulfilling workplace.
1 Many thanks to Rick McLeod, a world class product supply maven who inspired this formula.