Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Apathy is Contagious, But so is Enthusiasm

I recently spent some time talking with the leader of a small organization who was concerned because her group seemed to be slipping deeper and deeper into a sense of apathy. This leader is very young and desperately wanted the rest of her group to be as excited about the organization as she was. She spent some time thinking about some of the things that had inspired her in the past and remembered how she had always been excited by new challenges. Armed with that knowledge she had come up with several new projects that she knew would inspire her team and reverse the trend of apathy.

As I listened to this scenario unfold, I knew how the story would end. After all, she hadn’t sought me out because of the high morale of the organization. She had sought me out because they were still stuck and she did not know where to turn.

As we talked, I moved the discussion from an overview of the group to her own current situation. As we talked she revealed that she was feeling overwhelmed in her position and that the job had been so much bigger than she had really expected. She had expected her movement from team member to leader to be relatively seamless. After all, she had been a part of the organization for several years, knew all of the roles of her team members, and had been a top performer. But it had not been as easy as she expected and she was becoming aware of everything that she didn’t know about how to lead the organization, including how to get her team excited again.

As we peeled the onion together, she became aware that her own feelings of overwhelm were now permeating the organization. Her concerns, doubts, and lack of enthusiasm for her new role had seeped out and were spreading across the entire group. It had happened slowly, as she had expressed her doubts and fears to a close friend in the department. And then she had cancelled a staff meeting because she was “overwhelmed”, followed by missing an after hours team building event because she was “too tired” to attend. The next thing she knew the entire group seemed to lack enthusiasm, energy, and focus.

Her own lack of energy and enthusiasm had affected the entire organization, spreading through the ranks like a wildfire through a dry forest. And now her job of reversing this trend had been made even more difficult as a result of her own thoughts and actions.

But here is the good news. Just as feelings of overwhelm, frustration, and apathy can be contagious, so can feelings of excitement, energy, and engagement. The organization always takes its cues from the leader and when the leader is excited, so is the whole team. The answer to this client's problem lay within herself. First, she had to solve her own problems and then extend that enthusiasm out to her team in the same way she had initially spread the disease. First by infecting one person around her with her new found enthusiasm, and then by spreading it through her entire team. As she became more enthused and engaged herself, so did her entire team.

At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:
• Your Company Culture
• The Leadership Styles of your key managers
• The Expectations of your Employees

When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

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