Thursday, June 30, 2011

Energy levels at work

Recently our discussion group of Young Professional capacity development advisors discussed the topic: How do you deal with the situation if you and your collegues have a low energy level at work?

The case was brought up because I am working for an organisation that has been going through a few months of uncertainty and restructuring. A relatively long period for me, as I am only working for this organisation for six months in total. In this period of uncertainty and management change there was not much room for new initiatives. Furthermore, many of my colleagues had and still have difficulties to motivate themselves for their work. An exception is the new director who is doing his best to transform the organisation into a successful and profitable organisation. This situation had quite a big impact on my own energy level.

This case raised the question how to deal with a situation of uncertainty at work and an absence of collective energy to go for it and build a successful organisation? The main question was how to turn this around to increase your own energy and the energy of others. This article does not provide the answer, as that is probably nonexistent, but will give some suggestions and insights into the topic.

A local market in Africa.

The group came up with the following suggestions:

· A crisis could be an opportunity to change something, a time when you can start developing and implementing new things. Dare to take the initiative.

· Try to discuss the passive atmosphere with other people in the organisation to see what can be done to overcome it.

· Do creative things to get new energy, for example to make a video that benefits the organisation in some way.

· Show people where you are working on, instead of just talking about it. If you want people to start acting and implementing new policies or events, you have to start organising. If not, nothing will happen by itself.

· Accept the situation as it is if you are not in the position to change the culture of the organisation. Enjoy, try to do other things that give you energy and accept that your work activities might be different from your initial plans.

· Sometimes it is better to focus on the things you can do, in the time you are still working there.

Young Professionals work with local organisations in challenging circumstances

Since the Discussion Group meeting on the topic the energy level in the organisation as well as my own motivation started to improve slightly. There are two important reasons for this:

The beginning of a turnaround

The motto of the new director is very clear. Everyone gets a chance to learn and adapt to the new line of management. He is prepared to help everyone and listen to everyone's questions and suggestions. However, those who are not willing to change and work hard to reach a successful organisation risk losing their job. He achieves this by rewarding those who achieve good results and clearly communicating the way he would like to see things happening. The positive effect is that performance goes up. The side effect is that there is some feeling of fear against him.

A mental change

Personally, I started to realise I should focus on the things I can do and accept, although it is very unfortunate, that there were two months in which I could not move forward as quickly as I had hoped for. Since we have overcome the ‘crisis’ now the moment seems to be there to implement new things and this seems to work quite well and gives energy! The new director is very open to any initiative to improve current processes and activities.

Maintaining your own energy levels

Before starting my job here in Africa I thought I was mentally prepared for a different working atmosphere. I had never imagined that it would hit me as hard as it did. I do believe the organisational struggles made that it hit me harder than it would have done otherwise, but still, apparently I was not prepared well enough for it.

Besides the points already mentioned, I think the following is important to keep in mind to keep yourself motivated and obtain energy from your work:

· Start by working with some people who seem to be interested. From here others might also realise your added value and start to open up.

· Show people in what way you can make a difference and make people’s work easier by not waiting too long to start implementing your ideas and projects. Often it takes too long to wait for a decision, if a start has already been made the decision is likely to follow automatically.

· Be patient and do not worry too much you will not be successful, eventually things will start happening in most cases.

A story from a Young Professional working in Africa