In this article, you can read more about team energy and how you can increase it so that there is more team spirit, more responsibility, and resilience.
Voor Nederlands, klik hier.
“Thank you for this positive energy, Freek. The neighbors are now awake!” That was a reaction after a new powerful team-building workshop I gave with great pleasure last week.
The result of this online workshop was a team with more connection and energy.
What about team energy? Some teams have a lot of energy, enthusiasm, and confidence. Other teams cannot get ahead, show any initiative, or are too stressed.
In April 2020, the book “The treehouse feeling” (only available in Dutch) by Petra Kuipers was released. It is a guide for inspiring project leadership. I think it is a good book, and it recommended for (starting) project leaders, organization consultants, and team coaches.
Different states of Team Energy
In the book, Petra writes about the energy of a project team. There are different states of team energy. The team energy depends on the intensity and quality of the energy. It is comparable to a battery. Is it a new or an old one? Is it one of the discount shop which runs empty quickly or is it an A-brand that lasts for a long time?
Bruch and Vogel (2005) explain that there is always a collective energy, and the intensity can be low or high. Also, the quality of energy is positive or negative. The matrix below shows the different forms of team energy:
Teams with productive energy are often intense and have positive emotions. There is a lot (& and fast) production and high endurance. There is a strong passion for the work or project, and the team members challenge each other for success.
Characteristics of a team that has comfortable energy are, for example, teams that have little interest in (positive) change. Decision-making is very slow because the team members are satisfied with the current situation. There are positive emotions, but they are rather weak and hard to see.
These teams are frustrated by, for example, unclear objectives, ongoing reorganizations and do not feel heard. They have been disappointed by promises that have not been kept. As a result, team members are not involved. They either react negatively to new initiatives, or they all don’t care anymore. Signals from team members in a team with resigned inertia are fatigue or other characteristics of burnout.
With both low intensity and low quality of energy, there can be destructive energy within a team. Think, for example, of politics, high resistance to change, or a lot of internal competition that do not contribute to team- or organizational goals. Team members work hard (under pressure), and production is high, but often they work for their gain and at the expense of others. Characteristics are a high number of resignations, or that team members suffer from a burnout.
How to create better Team Energy?
Every organization wants teams with high intensity and positive quality. So teams with productive and positive energy. This applies not only to management but often also to individual employees. I enjoy working in these teams.
According to Bruch and Vogel (2011), team energy is malleable, and all different forms of energy can occur simultaneously in an organization.
The question is how to get and stay in the productive energy quadrant, especially if you are in a different quadrant with your team.
It turns out, no matter what type of team energy, you have to slow down first to speed up.
For a team with a lot of corrosive energy, this means, for example, that an attempt must be made to phase out the negativity. It is best to let this team relax with a time-out. Then it is good to talk to each other about things that are not going well and what effect this has on the team members. Maybe it’s time to deal with the elephant in the room. Find out what team members can stop doing. Make time and space for (reversed) innovation and change. A team with a lot of corrosive energy can then set common goals, work on commitment, and build pride.
Teams stuck in resigned inertia need confidence. Team members would like to get involved again, and you can do that by letting them take responsibility for their work attitude, for example, by making work agreements. Here too, you will have to take time for a change.
The other team dealing with low energy intensity but high-quality energy is the comfortable energy team. Team members crave enthusiasm and inspiration to drive them to productive energy. These teams can be helped with a challenge and an urgency. It is, therefore, essential to create confidence that this challenge can be overcome. It is even better to allow this team to create something successful and beautiful. Something that is in line with the values, WHY, and ambition of the team and the organization.
Finally, a productive energy team also needs attention. They can fall back to the other quadrants of the energy matrix as well. They also need a break, a better connection with each other, and the organization’s meaning, goals, or (nested) WHY.
The Role of the Team Leader
As previously described, team energy is a collective energy. It is the sum of all team members. As a team leader, you don’t have to be a constant (enthusiastic) driver or someone who is always positive. Then your battery will run go empty. The team leader sets goals with the team, checks in often, neutralizes corrosive energy, helps others grow, and walks the talk.
It’s about managing your team’s energy. To help and keep your team to a level with higher energy intensity and quality, you can do the following:
By following a WHY session for yourself or with your organization, you will find out your unique WHY. It is your contribution and its effect on the world. When this is clear, choices become more natural, there is more enthusiasm and energy for your work, customer, and product. Click here for more information about how to discover the WHY for yourself or your organization.
Team building workshop
For a change with your team, follow a new (online) energetic workshop for more connection, fun, and self-confidence. You can find more information here.
How strong is each different energy state in your organization? Which one is dominant today? How do you manage the quality and intensity of your team’s energy? Let me know in the comment field below. The other readers of this article and I are looking forward to reading from you!
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–Het Boomhutgevoel, Petra Kuipers
–Fully Charged, Heike Bruch en Bernd Vogel