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Feb
17
Brady Wilson

This article is the first of a Juice blog series on “fossil fuel” and personal energy in the workplace. Stay tuned for more in the series over the next few weeks!

For centuries, mankind used clean, renewable fuel to get work done. Wind powered our ships, and waterwheels ground our grain.

But once we discovered crude oil, everything changed. Fossil fuel burned hotter and faster than renewable energy so we jumped on board, increasing our productivity by unfathomed multiples.

Two centuries later, we are seeing the devastating impact of fossil fuel on our ecosystem. Renewable energy is at the front of our minds, once again.

Just look at the close of 2015, when energy was a hot topic! The price of crude oil dropped dramatically, the cost of utilities skyrocketed, and a landmark agreement to transition to clean energy was signed by 195 countries in December.

The world is constantly thinking about energy. What we are burning? Where are we getting it from? How long will it last? And what impact does it have on our ecosystem?

Interestingly, we understand the consequences of burning fossil fuel on our ecosystem. However, we don’t seem to get the consequences of burning fossil fuel in the workplace.
 

Renewable fuel vs. fossil fuel

Allow me to explain further. When it comes to “fuel”—or personal energy—in the workplace, I’m referring to two very different kinds.

Hundreds of years ago, in the age of artisans, people burned and were driven by “renewable fuel” like passion, pride, purpose and connection.

Why do I call these things renewable? Because although the stone mason flopped down on his bed exhausted after a long day of work, his passion and pride woke him up in the morning—powerful jolts of intrinsic motivation that would fuel him through another demanding day. Like the wind and the sun, these fuels aren’t accessible 24/7, but they certainly are renewable.

However, fundamental changes to the way work was done came about during the Industrial Revolution. Fuelled by a hunger for increased productivity and profit, the workplace moved from a cottage industry to a factory system where people became tools, control became paramount, and employees were driven by intimidation/threats, micro-managing, positional power and judgment.

These “fossil fuels” burned hot and got instant results. But the byproducts were burnt-out, bitter, disenfranchised employees: early seeds that would grow into the union/strike mentality in due time.
 

Fossil fuel in today’s workplace

Today, workplace conditions are significantly better than in the Industrial Revolution—but we still see organizations burning fossil fuel to keep their managers and employees engaged and striving.

For example:

  • a manager may pit one employee against another, and unhealthy competition revs up the system; or
  • results may surge due to a powerful leader’s use of guilt, shame, or manipulation—leaving an oily residue spilling out into the organization’s ecosystem.

Even well-intended rewards and incentives programs function like fossil fuel. Employees work like mad for those rewards and incentives, coming in earlier and staying later, but ultimately end up burned out with nothing left in the tank. They do their best to soldier on but do so without energy, focus or passion—all those renewable fuels that drove artisans centuries ago.

Like crude oil, fossil fuel is expensive and finite. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. And the long-term result of burning personal fossil fuel in an organization is stress, absenteeism, workplace bullying and disengaged employees.


How to make this work

Does the above sound like your workplace?

Imagine it differently: by focusing on burning renewable energy such as autonomy, purpose, connection, growth and passion in your organization, you can create an environment where employees are both engaged and energized—and your ecosystem flourishes.

Ultimately, it’s renewable energy that sustainably fuels high performance, customer experiences, and the bottom line.
 

Take inventory

You might now be thinking, “What kind of fuel am I burning in my life and within my organization? And how can I switch from fossil fuel to renewable fuel—and energize my employees in the process?”

Take a look at the list below. Perhaps you’re burning the fossil fuel of “micro-managing.” On the opposite end of that behavior is “autonomy”—that is, granting decision-making autonomy to your employees.

Consider one simple step you can take towards making the switch toward burning clean, renewable energy. It doesn’t have to be elaborate—sometimes, the easiest solutions are right there in front of you. 

Instead of burning this fossil fuel...         Consider burning this renewable fuel:
Intimidation Vulnerability
Shame Purpose
Judgment Progress
Guilt Passion
Micro-managing Autonomy
Manipulation Solidarity
Control Meaning
Unhealthy competition Connection

 

Want to learn more about personal energy in the workplace? Download a FREE copy of The Engagement Paradox white paper today!

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Brady Wilson

Brady Wilson

Co-Founder of Juice Inc, Thought Leader & Author

Alex Somos

Alex Somos

Co-Founder of Juice Inc.

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