Many leaders and their teams are tired. When we ask people to rank their energy levels on a scale of 1-10, 5-6 is pretty common. This is not a way to live and work and yet people are seeing this as normal, and “just the way it is”. Yikes. There is more to life.
To make matters worse, people are screaming out for more staff. And good staff are hard to get at the best of times, let alone during what’s deemed to be “the Great Resignation”.
However in reality, the last thing they need is to add more tired people to their team. That’s not the answer. A better way forward is to get people’s energy up to a 9 or 10 out of 10 as often and as long as possible.
When people are tired, their brains are trying to use as little cognitive energy as possible just to get through the day. They’re hardly in a position to think strategically or creatively. It’s certainly much harder to think optimistically. There is also more sickness and burnout. You also don’t want to be known for having a tired team – which makes it much harder to retain and recruit staff.
Therefore people fall into the trap of doing things the way they have always been done, and just generally feeling busy, which of course, leads to more tiredness – aargh – it’s a vicious and unproductive cycle which is costing companies a fortune!
So here are some of the reasons for the lack of energy:
- Lack of holidays – sure travel has been harder over the last few years, but the brain needs a break. Big annual leave accruals are bad for people’s brains and the company balance sheet, and of course profits.
- Continuous partial attention – when people are passively sitting in a virtual meeting while trying to get through some emails and getting buzzed by phone notifications all at one, this increases cortical fatigue – a fancy term for spending way too much cognitive energy.
- Too much ambiguity – the brain hates this and goes into overdrive spending cognitive energy to make sense of the ambiguity. If you haven’t clearly defined your hybrid high performance culture then your team is wasting way more cognitive energy on ambiguity than you realise.
- Not including your cognitive energy patterns when structuring your days and weeks – this can mean the difference between getting 4 hours of work done in 4 hours, or 6 hours – I know how long I’d rather take!
- Meetings – time spent in meetings is time away from actually doing productive work, and can also increase wasted cognitive energy on the frustration of being in meetings.
If you didn’t notice a theme, all of the above are concerned with and increased and generally unnecessary use of cognitive energy – we need to decrease the amount of cognitive energy which gets spent so that cognitive energy can be invested wisely.
As a leader, creating an environment for people to maximise their energy is absolutely your job. Of course part of that leadership is to highlight that everyone needs to take responsibility to maximise their energy.
If you would like to discuss your collective cognitive energy in your company or team, please contact us to book your 45 min complimentary Performance Call.