Energy*, either positive or negative, can have a major impact on the action and motivation of individuals and ultimately the achievement of workplace goals. Increasing role demands, particularly while we are facing the uncertainty and disruption of a global pandemic, can lead to stress, burnout and disengagement.

*Energy within the context of a work environment is used to describe a resource that is harnessed by an individual to do work.

What is relational energy?

Relational energy refers to the feeling and sense of increased resourcefulness experienced as a direct result of positive interactions we have with other people. According to the experts, we are motivated to associate with people who make us feel good. It is the positive energy transfer between people, during an interaction, that can improve job performance. Negative energy spreads just as easily and can influence the behaviour of others – even if you are not aware of its presence, the negative energy of co-workers can drain your own energy reserves.

Are you a relational energiser?

We can probably all think of someone in the workplace be it a co-worker, boss or team member that makes you feel energised to be around. Researchers studying the effects of relational energy in the workplace found that a ‘relational energiser’ can make people feel as if they could work harder, enjoy their work more or give them motivation to focus on a task. The results were amplified when the relational energiser was in a leadership position which makes sense given the nature of their role.

Researchers of “Relational energy at work: implications for job engagement and job performance” used the following five questions to understand the level of relational energy a person feels for their direct supervisor or manager.

  1. I feel invigorated when I interact with this person.
  2. After interacting with this person I feel more energy to do my work.
  3. I feel increased vitality when I interact with this person.
  4. I would go to this person when I need to be “pepped up.”
  5. After an exchange with this person I feel more stamina to do my work.

Why understanding relational energy is so important for leaders

The findings from several studies shows that positive energy can increase an individual’s resources, resilience, resourcefulness, creativity, flexibility, productivity, and learning capacity.

The behaviour and actions of leaders has a direct impact on the productivity of teams. Not just in terms of how a leader exerts their own energy but also with how they deal with the energy of others. It may seem easier to just ignore the negative energy of others rather than dealing with it, but this can have a ripple effect within your team. As mentioned, negative energy can sometimes go undetected and be sub-consciously impacting the behaviour and motivation of individuals within a team.

Management magazine HBR published insights from a study on relational energy which recommended four actions for business leaders.

  1. Build high quality connections: these are the connections with other people in which we feel positive regard, mutuality, and vitality. READ MORE
  2. Create energising events: organise and run events with a focus on creating energy not just delivering content, products, or services.
  3. Use tools that promote a “giver” culture: helping someone at work creates energy in the form of positive emotions. READ MORE
  4. Map relational energy: creating relational energy maps of your team/organisation can help you target where to focus on building high-quality connections, creating energising events, and using tools that create an energising giver culture.

Need help?

Understanding how individuals can derive energy from others at work is the first step towards harnessing the power of relational energy to increase engagement, boost productivity and performance. Does your organisation need an energy boost? We can help with that.

The Decipher Team

To stay on top of current recruitment trends and technologies follow Decipher Group on LinkedIn.

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