How to Energize Low-Energy Employees

Managers complain about pushing low-energy employees.

Low-energy suggests lack of purpose, not lack of energy. Don’t try to energize low-energy employees. Help them connect with their purpose.

we understand our story when we hear it on the lips of others

Purpose pulls. You don’t push people who have purpose. They pull you.

Purpose is:

  1. Direction in a world filled with options. Purpose gives power to eliminate distracting options.
  2. Confidence to take action, even if others don’t.
  3. Grit when progress stalls.
  4. Criteria for choosing who to serve and where to work.
  5. Fulfillment.

Finding purpose is like finding fire.

How to find fire:

If you want to ignite fire, help people find purpose.

Provide time for people to tell their story.

  1. What’s going on?
  2. What are you learning?
  3. Where is the energy in your life? Frustration?
  4. Tell me your story.

We understand our story when we hear ourselves telling it to others.

Say it back.

We understand our story when we hear it on the lips of others.

I love listening for unexpected repetitions when someone tells their story. Recently, over coffee, I heard, “It’s better for others.”

I expected to hear, “It’s better for me.”

I said it back. “I notice you use the phrase, “‘It’s better for others.”

My question is, “When did you realize it was important to make it better for others?”

He said, “My dad had a bad temper.” He also talked about being the youngest.

Your purpose peaks out in the folds of your story.

Listen for:

The process of helping people find fire is more like fanning embers than turning on lights. It’s usually gradual, rather than a bolt of lightning.

Conversations are useful when someone says, “I hadn’t thought of it that way before.”

If you want to help people find purpose, ask them to tell their story. After listening, say it back.

How might leaders/managers help team members find purpose?

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Beyond 300 words

Other sources of energy include:

  1. Making progress. Design projects with short-term milestones.
  2. Self-improvement. Provide mentors, coaches, and learning opportunities.
  3. Connecting with people. When team members face challenges, ask, “How might WE help?”
  4. Having control over decisions. Create a list of options and ask, “Which choice seems best to you?” Their choice is always better than yours, even if it isn’t quite as good.