Recent research by the Gallup Organization and Towers Perrin clearly indicate that, on average, about 25-30% of employees are actively and productively engaged, about 35-40% are passively engaged (doing as little as necessary to stay employed), and about the same percentage are actively disengaged, with many of them hostile and having a toxic effect within their workplace.
Obviously, the challenge for business leaders in all organizations (whatever their size and nature my be) is to increase the percentage of those workers who are actively and productively engaged. What do Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz suggest in The Power of Full Engagement, published by Free Press? All of their insights and recommendations are based on a vast amount of real-world experience with all manner of organizations. What they offer in this volume is a comprehensive and cohesive program that enables us to manage energy efficiently. The methodology is based on four separate but interdependent principles:
1. Full engagement requires drawing on separate but related sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. “All four dynamics are critical, none is sufficient by itself and each profoundly influences the others [for better or worse]. To perform at our best, we must skillfully manage each of these interconnected dimensions of energy.”
2. Because energy capacity diminishes both with overuse and with underuse, we must balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal. “We rarely consider how much energy we are spending because we take it for granted that the energy available to us is limitless. In fact, increased demand progressively depletes our energy reserves – especially in the absence of any effort to reverse the progressive loss of capacity that occurs with age.”
3. To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits, training in the same systematic way that elite athletes do. “Stress is not the enemy in our lives. Paradoxically, it is the key to growth. In order to build strength in a muscle we must systematically stress it, expending energy beyond normal levels. Doing so literally causes microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. At the end of a training session, functional capacity is diminished. But give the muscle twenty-four to forty-eight hours to recover and it grows stronger and better able to handle the next stimulus.”
4. Positive energy rituals – highly specific routines for managing energy – are the key to full engagement and sustained high performance. “Change is difficult. We are creatures of habit. Most of what we do is automatic and nonconscious. What we did yesterday is what we are likely to do today…A positive ritual is a behavior that becomes automatic over time – fueled by some deeply held value.”
I also highly recommend Tony Schwartz’s recently published book, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance.