Why does work take away my energy, and how do I get it back?

Workplaces can give us energy; if we get some great feedback or complete a difficult task, we can feel ready to tackle the world. They can also take energy away; if we are overwhelmed with work or have unclear guidelines for example, it can be challenging to get going. Learning what gives and takes energy from us can be an essential milestone in our career progression. A milestone that can help us to be productive and enjoy the work that we do.

The first step is to identify what gives us energy and what takes it away.

Many things can impact our energy levels, here are some examples;

• Introvert or extrovert state (few people are entirely one or the other)

• Cultural factors

• Gender expectations

• Learning style

• Personality types (Jung Blue, Green, Red and yellow)

• Past experiences

• Current pressures

• Future concerns

• Integration into the group

• Unrealistic workloads

• Poor management and leadership

• Poor organisational structure

This list is not exhaustive. Some of these things may impact on you, and some may not. There are even a few sneaky ones that you might not even realise are having an affect.

Often the things that give energy to the dominant individual or groups are valued more. This can result in anyone not fitting the mould feeling a bit more exhausted or drained trying to keep up.

For example, If you have an inflexible boss or leader in your work team that likes to work in a different style to you. Maybe they want to have more interaction than you would prefer or have a vastly different background. These things might make you find the workplace more tiring.

It's necessary to understand this is rarely intentional. Often people will see their actions as "normal" or "common sense" because it is what is known to them. For now, we just want you to start understanding that this happens, but, in case you need it here is a simple approach to managing situations like this in the workplace;

Be clear about what you need from the workplace

EXAMPLE - more trust

Explain the impact the current environment has on you

EXAMPLE - makes you feel undervalued

Outline how changes would help you progress

EXAMPLE - give you more confidence and motivation

Try not to make it personal; people rarely listen when they feel they are being attacked. Instead, focus on your needs and projected impact.

It is not just about identifying what impacts you. It is equally important to notice how you affect your colleagues, especially if you are in a position of power. Notice how little or often you tell people when they are acting in a way that drains you if you are like most of us that probably isn't a lot. That's because, in the main, we are socialised to be polite and not take the risk of upsetting others. So by process of deduction, we can assume that our colleagues might not be telling us when we are taking energy away from them either.

Group behaviour like this can become very circular. As people find ways of avoiding, challenging or resisting the impact you have on them, you will likely respond in kind.

Imagine how much better your life would be if your colleagues made an effort to notice what motivated you and what brought you down? The best way to do this is to model the behaviour ourselves. Paying attention to our colleagues and trying to adapt around them a little more. Even asking them what environments make them productive, will encourage them to do the same.

No matter what status we hold in an organisation, we have the power to lead people, and when people want to follow us, good things start to happen.

For the dissenters that think this is PC gone mad or overkill I would disagree, this is about organisational productivity. People are more productive when they are content in their work environments, so creating environments that make people content makes a lot of bottom-line sense. It just so happens it makes everyone happy to do it, which warms the very cockles of my heart.

If you have never had a problem in the workplace and don't see why it should change, then maybe its worth considering if its because the workplace has always catered for you? Try and imagine working in a place that doesn't.

If we want to work in organisations that attract and retain the best people for the job, we need to think about what we are inviting them into. Otherwise, we might end up with only the people who have nowhere else to go.

Want to test our new Email course around identifying workplace challenges in exchange for your worldly wisdom? We are offering free access to the Identity Module for anyone happy to provide feedback. Click here to go straight to the course introduction. Each course takes about half an hour to complete and you will get a new one every seven days for six weeks.

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