Energy doesn’t lie. In a recent post on Harvard Business Review, Dr. Wayne Baker elaborates on the impact of energy on work performance: “The More You Energize Your Coworkers, the Better Everyone Performs“.
Everywhere we go, we “catch” energy through our interactions with people – something Dr. Wayne Baker and his colleagues Bradley Owens, Dana Sumpter and Kim Cameron call “relational energy” in an article published earlier this year.
To understand how this works, think of people in your workplace who buoy you up, who lift your spirits. What do they do? What do they say? Some people are energizing because they give off positive vibes.
If you have an energizing boss, chances are that you feel engaged at work. Focusing on relational energy between leaders and members of a large health care organization, they found that the experience of relational energy with a leader increases one’s motivation at work. This translates into higher work performance. Members of this health care company who experienced relational energy with their leaders were more engaged at work, which then led to higher productivity.
You are a source of relational energy as well as a recipient. When you generate relational energy in the workplace, your performance goes up. Rob Cross and Wayne Baker discovered this in research they did on energy mapping, using organizational network analysis to reveal the network of energy in the workplace. This occurs because people want to be around you. You attract talent, and people are more likely to devote their discretionary time to your projects. They’ll offer new ideas, information, and opportunities to you first. The opposite is also true. If you de-energize others, people won’t go out of their way to work with you or to help you. In the worst case, they might even sabotage you at work.
What can you do to increase relational energy in your workplace? Here are four actions you can take personally and as a leader.
- Build High-Quality Connections
- Create Energizing Events
- Use Tools that Promote a “Giver” Culture
- Try Mapping Relational Energy
If you feel like you have an energy crisis in your organization, the good news is that you can do something about it by focusing on relational energy — the energy we get and give in our daily interactions. Energy doesn’t lie. Every action and word, no matter how small, matters in boosting productivity and performance.
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