Today’s post is the second of three on the ‘Energy Investment’ model and how it relates to the choices you might make as a leader during times of organisational change. So right slap bang in the middle of a Pandemic:
- How is it affecting the choices you make?
- How much has your organisation been affected?
- How are you engaging with these changes?
- How is it affecting those around you?
- What is happening with the teams you lead?
If any of the questions above resonate with you, the EI model might help you assess your response to the changes and how it affects those around you. It might help you as a leader to understand what is motivating your staff to either participate enthusiastically with the change or resist or work against it. Consider the dynamics of your team – the star players as well as the people who may need additional support.
To recap, the Energy Investment Model identifies two dimensions of an individual’s motivation to perform a task:
- The attitude of the individual regarding the change
- The willingness of the individual to expend energy on the change.
And it is the combination of these two dimensions that define each of the categories/communities – Victim, Spectator, Cynic or Player.
Victims – Low energy, Negative attitude
People in this category live in fear of making mistakes. Typically, individuals in this group feel powerless to take action or influence events. They generally think that they are ‘done to’; there are too many things outside of their control. In the past, they were possibly micromanaged or disempowered in some other way. Individuals in this group primarily turn up to do the job, no more and maybe less. They are in limbo, marking time until the change goes away or they leave the organisation.
Spectators – Low energy, Positive attitude
Within this group, people will talk the talk but rarely deliver it. They likely lack confidence, choosing to wait until they feel safe to act. Preferring in general, to keep their head down, keep a low profile and wait for things to settle down again before moving into Player mode. In times of change and challenge, Spectators may feel threatened and exposed.
Cynics – High energy, Negative attitude
The Cynics are generally articulate, with good technical skills. But they are furious at the organisation. They will not be backward in sharing their views and potentially sabotaging, wrecking projects, plans, and change. And they are likely to try and get others to come around to their perspective – spreading negativity and discord to spectators and victims.
Player – High energy, Positive attitude
These people make things happen and are generally comfortable and excited by the change. They typically hold a realistic and optimistic view of the organisation, willing to put extra effort and energy into its improvement and success. Players are open to new possibilities and ideas and are usually not afraid of short-term setbacks or mistakes. They have a willingness and desire to make things better.
So how might you as a leader move forward with the different groups? What might each group need?
Victims are likely to need greater understanding and support to help deal with any stress they are suffering. They will likely benefit from encouragement both from you and from peers. Is it possible to offer them some stability in their role, some certainty? They might also benefit from a series of mini challenges to help build confidence. But it might also be the case that they need professional help and support. Encouragement to seek outside professional help.
Spectators will also need greater understanding and help to cope with fears and lack of confidence. They are more likely to thrive with careful and thoughtful delegation rather than being dumped on or deluged with tasks. In addition, they may need a safe place to try out new learning. Challenges that stretch but do not overwhelm, with lots of positive encouragement and feedback. Coaching around their development might be helpful to understand the story behind their lack of action. Has this always been the case, or has one event/situation triggered their inactivity? Was this spectator once in the Player group? The critical thing with this group is to build on their positive attitude and turn it into action.
An opportunity perhaps to do things for themselves, with clear accountability and boundaries. A chance to put their energy to good use. Cynics may need reminding what their job is about, the part they play, and the difference they are making. Cynics could also benefit from support and encouragement, which also challenges their continuing negativity. It could be that they no longer feel heard, so an opportunity to come up with and follow through with solutions might be helpful. If they can see tangible outcomes of their suggestions, then so much the better. It might also help to buddy up a Cynic with a Player, though there might be some risk here.
Reward and support for being positive key players through change, do not take them for granted. Players may well appreciate flexible opportunities for personal growth and support if they take a stand against Cynics. They are likely to benefit from high impact objectives and projects which provide stretch and allow them to shine.
Respect, recognition, and thanks – do not allow your Players to become the dumping ground just because they take a positive approach to work. Remember, this group needs care and attention too. You do not want to take their willingness and desire to get things done for granted. If Players become overloaded and stressed, they may decide to migrate to another group.
If any of this resonates or is in any way helpful, please do let me know.
Until next time
PS – Adapted from my Training notes on the Energy Investment Model.
References: Claude S. Lineberry, Vanguard Consulting Group, 1986
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