Maintaining Energy & Engagement

"A very significant change in my job... and another review with more change to come. I've been trying to put it into practice, but I still find it very difficult... There's not a lot you can do... we're pawns in the game plan... foot soldiers in the army... It's horrible, but you have to stick it out and see what happens." I'm not optimistic... there's not a lot you can do. I've enjoyed the Company... but I go home tired... I could work every night... I need recovery time at home and that doesn't go down well with my wife and children..."

"Morale is at an all time low... I look at the others and recognise the anger, fear and worry in their voices"

- "Survivors" of change

In these quotes, it appears that even though the people involved were trying hard to make the change, they were losing energy and, like an army on the brink of defeat, feeling tired and demoralised.

In our consultancy work, we experience this kind of dip in morale, usually when initial enthusiasm for a project is replaced by the reality of what is required to complete the "journey". Our solution is even more and even better communication.

What happens if individuals reach this point on their journey?

Depending on the type of leadership provided, energy can go any one of four ways:
  • Productive Energy - energy levels remain high all the time. The leadership challenge is how to maintain engagement for the change, without "burn out" and consequent loss of effectiveness.

  • Comfortable Energy - people are happy to do their job and don't feel the need to do more. The leadership challenge is how to create a new sense of purpose and opportunity, resulting in further engagement in the change.

  • Resigned Energy - energy is lost and activities are having little or no impact on the change required. The leadership challenge is about giving people the confidence and competence to change.

  • Corrosive Energy - energy has turned negative and is working against the change. The leadership challenge includes getting the steam out of the situation and re-focusing on why the change is necessary.
Note: These definitions have been developed from original source research by Bruck/Vogel in 2005.

How can leaders address these challenges?

A great deal has been written about the leader's role during transition, which can be summarised as a combination of coaching, counselling, mentoring, training and even "consultancy". However details of the activities involved are not always clear. So at Wadenhoe, we have gone one step further by identifying a total of sixteen different activities, where leaders can really help their people through the Journey. Here are four examples:

Leadership Behaviour
An enabler, helping to draw out, expose, clarify, dispel negative feelings
A means of sounding out, testing, and anticipating snags
A source of confirmation, reinforcement and encouragement
A source of energy, spark, enthusiasm, motivation and inspiration

From our experience of working with leaders on the emotional side of change, we know that by helping them to recognise and then practice the right combination of activities at the right time, they are better able to maintain Productive Energy, throughout the Journey.

For more information on Team Energies, the sixteen transition activities and our one day, high-impact workshop: "Maintaining Energy and Engagement" and recent examples of measurable success, please contact:

The Wadenhoe Consultancy Ltd

Prama House
267 Banbury Road

Phone: 01865 339558
Mobile: 07899 796993
Fax: 01865 339301

Registered in England No: 6717860

©2012 The Wadenhoe Consultancy Ltd