Thursday, October 2, 2014

Leading with Energy and Focus for High Performance, Growth and Innovation

I am often asked what leadership model I support or promote.  There are many of them, and each has its own pros and cons.  Many are quite trendy, and most have ZERO data associated with them.

My answer to the 'what model' question always goes to two things:

* It's all about energy
* And practice data and dialogue driven leadership

Put the two together and you get energized leaders who know how to optimize and direct their own energy at work and the energy of the workforce.

Why should you become an energized leader who energizes others?

You should do it only if you want to outperform your competitors.  Energized workers who are focused get more of the right stuff done.  These employees may not always be happy and content, but they are successful.  Their energy is catchy; new employees start being productive faster because their peers are energy beacons.  Managers are working but not burned out. Leaders know how to redirect quickly, and they and their employees can adjust, respond and move after opportunities faster and better than their competitors.

Steps to take to become an energized and energizing leader:

1.  Energy Data - Get Some.  Find out what the energy level is of your workforce.  I recommend frequently assessing energy because it fluctuates.  Add data on energy to the list of metrics you track, and when you have management review meetings, go over sales, quality, productivity, profitability and energy.  Manage energy and drive your business forward.

2.  Track Key Human Capital Metrics - Add other metrics that are needed to drive your specific business goals.  Create a custom metrics strategy that not only measures what matters but that also influences the behaviors you need.  Data drives dialogue, and data and dialogue together affect action that leads to measurable business results.

3. Use Data Driven Storytelling - One of the most energizing exercises is to tell stories, but don't just make them up. Stories that are silly de-energize; stories based on reality, wishes, hopes and data make the workplace go faster and more efficiently.

4.  Find the Energy Hubs - We use a tool called organization network analysis (ONA) to find out who the energy chiefs are - these people know what to do, in your business, to increase energy and pass it on.  Once you find these individuals, learn what they know and teach.

5.  Optimize Energy and Measure Frequently - Energy is an optimization construct; everyone's ideal energy and zone is different.  Also, energy changes, and our research shows it's the variance in energy that's important.  Teach employees about energy and help them optimize their own energy at work.

Why is energy important?

The definition of energy is:  THE ABILITY TO DO WORK.

We're not talking about happy, lala land.  Energy is needed for a firm to have the momentum to go forward.

With over 1 million data points on energy, case studies from around the world on how energy improves performance and large-scale research on the role of energy in driving stock price and survival of firms, we know energy works.

It's the way to manage in today's fast, changing world.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Yesterday (September 12, 2014) I presented to a great group of HR professionals at the annual Nebraska State SHRM conference (Omaha, NE). I talked about energy at work, and I asked the group to rate their current working energy and the degree to which they were at, above or below their optimal energy level. ALL BUT TWO PEOPLE WERE BELOW THEIR OPTIMAL ENERGY AT WORK. Employers - this is a problem!!!! When working energy is below optimal energy, you are losing productivity. Learning how to manage and direct energy is a skill set that employers, managers and all employees need to learn - well, that is IF the organization wants to grow and innovate.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Employee Resource Groups (ERGS) are Good for Business and Great for Employee Engagement

ERGs - good for business; great for engagement 

This year Mattel, Inc. hosted the third annual Employee Resource Group (ERG) Leadership Summit at their learning center in El Segundo, CA.  The Summit was sponsored by Mattel, Sony Pictures, Direct TV, the Center for Effective Organizations at USC and eePulse, Inc.

We had over 120 participants, up from the two prior years.  The room was packed, and the energy was high.  We had a very cool group of people in the room, and they learned a lot from each other.

ERGs are inspiring.  

The people who run these groups and who are members do so on a voluntary basis.  They join these groups because they share a common interest with others in their organization. The tie may be based on a demographic (e.g. Asian Americans, Hispanic origin, Women, etc.), an experience they had (veterans, cancer survivors) or a combination of traits, demographics and/or cause (LGBT, sustainability, young professionals). 

What's fascinating about these groups is that they get work done - and they do it very well, without any formal hierarchy or use of incentives / punishment.  People join and create ERGs within firms because they want to do it. 

1.  People come together due to a commonality - and as a result they trust each other. 

2.  The people are not bound by hierarchy - they trust each other; they do not report to each other.

3.  There's a large variety of occupations represented.  

4.  Members can be themselves - they can take risks; they speak out - people are not on guard. 

Because of these 3 items above, ERGs are the perfect place for innovation in organizations.  We saw lots of evidence of creativity, innovation, high energy and inspiration at the Summit.  

ERGs create an environment for people to be  truly engaged at work. 

When I say engaged, I am going back to the original definition of the term, which was focused on "bringing yourself to work."  Today that definition has morphed into something else; the modern version of engagement is giving all your time and energy to work - going above and beyond to help the company.  But in the early days it was all about the company providing an opportunity for people to bring themselves to the workplace.

Employees contribute to ERGs  because they can be themselves, and they can share the things about themselves that make them proud.  They inspire each other by demonstrating skills and talents that often are not used in the workplace.  

Are ERGs only for large firms?  

No - it's time to try them in small and mid-size firms. 

When you look at the benefit of ERGs to larger firms, you have to ask how small and mid-size firms can get in on this action.  These smaller businesses may not have enough employees to form as many ERG types as we see in larger firms, but I'm convinced there's a way for them to tap into the core concepts that we know work. 

* Groups of people who trust each other 
* Employees in different occupations and various job levels 

All working together for a common good - within the company or their communities. ERGS are about diversity in experience and similarity in values. 

Smaller and mid-size firms can use what we know about ERGs and create communities of practice.  These can be focused on community involvement, innovation or driving culture.  

Interested in learning more?  Contact us to chat. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Improve performance management

Improve performance management to drive high performance

There's a lot of talk about getting rid of performance appraisal and traditional performance management systems.  I certainly can see why.  The performance appraisal process is, in general, a demotivating event for everyone involved.  They are too infrequent to be natural, and no matter what we say, everyone knows they are tied to salary increases.  Managers are forced to find negative things to say to balance out the positive, and it's basically a CONFRONTATION rather than a CONVERSATION.

Must we throw out performance management systems in order to make things better?

Or do we have to go to the only "positive and happy" feedback version of performance management?

There is a realistic alternative that can take performance management to the next level in your organizations. You can have discussions about what's working well and what's not while improving employee performance and providing management development.

Optimizing Energy - the lens for new performance management

With over 1 million data points on employee energy at work, several large, multi-firm research studies on energy and predictive analysis showing that energy leads to higher individual, team and firm performance, a process has been developed to monitor employee energy and provide feedback tools for optimization.  This process can be used to positively change performance management.  I don't have enough space in this blog to review the science of human energy optimization, so for now, I will just say that we have learned the following:

* Measurement of human energy at work can be done in a simple, fast way
* The metrics have been validated and predict performance (individual, team and firm level)
* Energy is an optimization metric so employees are asked about their current energy state and their ideal energy state.  The optimization concept is similar to what is used in other fields (e.g. finance, marketing and health).  The simplest example is that human energy at work acts like your body pulse - it fluctuates, and you want to stay at a level that is ideal for you.
* Employees are at their best - personally and at work - when energy is "in the zone."
* Frequent measurement of energy is needed to track if one is in or out of his/her zone.
* Frequent measurement data can be provided to leaders (heat maps are a great way to monitor) and to managers.
* Employees learn how to optimize their own energy at work - they are ultimately in control of it.
* Managers learn how to be directors of energy - they help employees reach their potential.

eePulse has created a process by which the science of energy is combined with effective management and leadership development designed to manage the energy conversation.

What happens?

* Measure energy frequently.
* Give employees access to their own data.
* Provide managers with data.
* Teach managers how to engaged in the right conversations - engaging employees to talk about their data.
* This happens frequently because energy data must be collected frequently.
* Leaders talk about the energy of the company in meetings; managers review their work; employees have one-on-one dialogues with their managers and with each other.

Voila - energy is the thing that drives conversations - not once a year but ongoing.

What did we do?  We just radically and positively changed performance management.  It is not part of the way business is being done.

This work is fun - it's energizing - it's not the drain that is performance appraisal and performance management.

If you want to learn more, go to, or feel free to write to me at

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