30 March 2017
Summer has finally arrived. But, even the word ‘July’ can cause the dreaded summer slump. As half the workforce jet off on holiday, those remaining start wishing they were too. It’s easy for the al-fresco lunch break to turn into an afternoon of poor productivity. So now, more than ever, it’s time to breathe life into the office and energise your staff.
Just as yawns are contagious, so is emotional energy. In fact, moods are transmitted with such ease because they can be vital signals for survival. Think of yourself as a mood manager. Harness the power of emotional contagion and use your positivity as a powerful lever to increase performance, stimulate creativity, encourage collaboration, and so on.
An energising manager doesn’t just talk about ‘what’ needs to be done or ‘how’ to do it. They start with the ‘why’. If your team feel like they’re going through the motions, engaged in an activity for the sake of it, they’re unlikely to feel motivated. Create a sense of purpose through visualising the outcome and making a link to something the team care about.
Research has revealed that the words we use can subconsciously prime others mental states. Our tone should be optimistic – not happy-clappy, but taking a positive frame. Try to engage and stimulate the listener, and make your statement decisive (nothing should be done by halves). Make your delivery a little unusual. No-one is energised by a message they’re expecting to hear.
And not just physically. It’s about being able to read and respond to people’s feelings with emotional intelligence. Tune in, putting aside your own emotions and ignoring distractions. Listen and observe the clues people give us. You’ll give the most appropriate response only when you’re truly present.
It’s easy to feel energised at the start of something, be it a project or a new role. What’s harder is to maintain energy over time. One of the most powerful tools for a manager is to help people see progress. It’s more than about celebrating successes, but highlighting progress through learning, in improving a skill, or hitting a mini-milestone.