The Key to Workplace Success: Be an Energizer

Most small businesses only have a handful of employees. What is the most important quality to determining these employees' success? Is it dedication? The ability to work well with others? Technical knowledge? Expertise?

While most of these attributes are important to workplace success, according to author Robert Sutton, none of the above are as crucial as "energy."

In the book Good Boss, Bad Boss, author Robert Sutton ran a survey among workers that judged how "energizing" each employee was. They found staggering results that workers who energized others had a high correlation between getting promotions and other success factors in the workplace.

It turns out that having energy can be a huge asset to a company, as the attribute touches nearly every aspect of the workplace. An Energizer interacting with clients leaves a positive impression, and positive energy also rubs off on employees and upper management. Energizers affect the entire company because they are "contagious," leaving their mark with whoever interacts with them. In fact, their energy can even affect whether or not other workers will stay or leave a company.

It's not so hard to see why Energizers are so valuable to a company. In a setting where bad attitudes often prevail, an Energizer can lead by example and create positive energy just by doing "what they do." In fact, their job descriptions or title don't often matter within the company. What matters is how they make others feel.

So what does an Energizer look like?

Traits of an Energizer

A mental image of an Energizer might yield a typical salesperson: shmoozy, fluid, charming, and high-energy. However, Sutton and his colleagues found that you don't necessarily have to have "bubbly" traits to be seen as Energizers. Energizers are mostly defined by an optimistic outlook and being engaged with people in front of them.

This means that you could be introverted, but still provide energy. Energizers are often leaders who listen first and respond last. They're constantly looking for the positives within people and with others' ideas. Probably most importantly, Energizers provide constructive criticism.

So how can you become more energized in the workplace?

Becoming an Energizer

Energizers try to empower the people they come in contact with. This means that Energizers have (at the very least) two things: great listening skills and positive attitudes.

Be a Better Listener

To become a better listener, focus on listening first, then talking. It seems like an easy concept, but there are plenty of leaders in the workplace who can't grasp this concept. After all, we want to be heard — but the key is to listen first, respond last.

Another skill is what's known as "active listening," or listening and then commenting or repeating what's been said. Often, asking questions is one of the best ways to show the person that you're understanding what they're talking about.

Validating people and their ideas is what empowers people within a workplace. You can't do this without actively listening and giving constructive input to their ideas and goals.

A Positive Attitude

Aside from the many health factors of a positive outlook (like in aging or recovery), it's an exceptional tool in the workplace. Often a positive outlook is seen as a mindset, but it can be influenced by factors in your life.

Your physical health can greatly influence your outlook. There's something to be said for the physical attributes as an Energizer, too. If you're physically fit and energetic, that can also be a positive and contagious trait.

How much sleep are you getting? Are you eating well? Did you exercise today? These factors all affect your outlook. Anything that you can do to improve your overall health with have positive implications on your outlook, which will in turn have positive effects on your work performance.

Looking for Ways to Energize

You have to find ways to be an Energizer. Start developing a mindset of helping others by validating their ideas. This could mean having lunches with people who you wouldn't normally interact with, or asking an extra question.

People respond well when they can tell that you're doing everything you can to engage with them and positively influence their work and ideas. Energizers know this (or do it as second nature), which is what company leadership is looking for.

If you own a business, learn how to detect Energizers and start investing in them. A little energy can go a long way to helping your company's innovation and, ultimately, the bottom line.

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