Creating Positive Energy in the Workplace

By: Jeff Wolf, President, RCC

During my many years as a consultant, speaker and executive business coach, I have had the privilege of doing business with hundreds of organizations. And I have had the opportunity to observe firsthand the state of the workforce.

If I had to choose a single maxim for company success, it would be this: Company success depends on a workforce of highly motivated individuals who are excited about their work. Of course, no workforce operates in a vacuum. Employees need a strong leader with a positive attitude and enthusiasm to spare. An organization with these ingredients has a recipe for success.

I firmly believe—and studies confirm—that employees work for people, not for companies. Conversely, employees don’t leave companies, they leave ineffective leaders. Recent surveys support this:

  • A Gallup Organization study, based on interviews over 25 years with 12 million workers at 7,000 companies, found that an employee’s relationship with a manager/supervisor largely determines the length of an employee’s stay. 
  • A Saratoga Institute study, based on interviews with 20,000 employees who had recently left an employer, revealed that the main reason people quit is the manager’s behavior. 
  • Corporate Leadership Council research found that a high-quality leader is the single most significant factor in attracting and retaining key talent.
There is no shortage of good employees in today’s workplace. There is, however, a shortage of inspirational leaders and inspiring places to work. Leaders are seldom energy neutral. They either energize their employees, or they act as energy vampires, sapping workers’ motivation and enthusiasm and contributing to low morale.

One way to create positive energy in the workplace is to implement what I call, “catching people doing something right.” Heaping praise and recognition (instead of finding fault) is a powerful tool. A leader can make a big difference in the motivation of every direct report.

Try to recall the last time you told someone:

  • “You really made a difference by … ”
  • “I’m impressed with …”
  • “You got my attention with …”
  • “You’re doing top quality work on … ”
  • “You’re right on the mark with … ”
  • “We couldn’t have done it without your … ”
  • “You can be proud of yourself for … ”
  • “You’ve made my day because of …”
Catching people doing something right goes a long way toward creating positive energy and motivating them to excel. Sharing positive feedback is contagious. Once initiated, it trickles down to all levels.

Motivated employees feel better about their work and workplace, and contribute more to the success of their departments and, ultimately, to their organizations. And motivated employees improve the organization’s bottom line. You can take that to the bank! If you are a leader or aspiring leader, keep this tool at the top of your tool kit. It will serve you well.