We all know the type. You can feel them when you walk into the room and you can almost see a grey cloud over them. These are the people who put a pair of grey glasses on every day when they leave for work. They see the reason why something won’t work, as their default position. They are the victims; they are helpless to affect change. They are the energy sappers.
I occasionally get to experience this with clients or when delivering training. It only takes one! Then all the attention and time is swallowed up trying to convince that person to take their grey glasses off. Not only does this suck the energy from the room, it is also unfair on the rest of the team.
Some common traits of the sapper is that they constantly air negative views, fail to engage others, favour their own solutions or fail to deliver on the commitments they make and are poor listeners. These actions drain the energy of their colleagues, stifle creativity and hinder progress on initiatives.
Many business leaders believe that energy sappers are the biggest obstacle to success.
So what can you do?
The flip side of the sapper are those people who “energise” others.
They are high performers and help create high performance, high-energy environments. We want energisers in our business and we want to encourage, acknowledge and reward these behaviours. So define your company values and the behaviours that sit behind them. Ensure roles & responsibilities contain a description of ideal behaviours and not just tasks. Recognise and reward great behaviours not just the completion of objectives.
The traits of the energiser are not surprisingly the complete opposite of the sapper: they are open to ideas, inclusive, look for the positive, are great listeners and team players. Energisers bring energy into the room and we want them in our businesses.
So tomorrow morning, as you leave the house, consider what glasses you are going to put on – grey? neutral? or rose tinted? Are you going to be the sapper or the energiser?
Some people say they are perfectionists – wearing it as a badge of honour. By definition the perfectionist cannot succeed so it’s quite a self-destructive character trait to have. In fact, it is often referred to as “the highest form of self-abuse” because perfection simply doesn’t exist. More importantly, perfection is rarely necessary in day-to-day working environment. Don’t get me wrong, perfectionists are frequently high achievers but the price they pay for success can be unhappiness and dissatisfaction. In reality being a perfectionist will always hold you back, it’s not about doing tasks well, it’s about doing them to the highest standard and berating oneself (and others) when this unattainable standard is not reached. You can see why it’s a recipe for disaster!
Many business owners and entrepreneurs state they are perfectionists and consequently find it hard to delegate (because no one will do it as well or as fast as them!) as the business grows, and they can no longer do everything or know everything or control everything, they have a hard time letting go. Ultimately this stops their business growing and creates a lot of stress for the owner. Not good.
So when working with perfectionists, I talk about starting at point A with the ultimate aspiration of arriving at point Z but first focus on getting to point B. What does this look like? What would a good acceptable outcome be? Once you are clear about point B you can let go of Z and just focus on delivering B, then C and so on. Before you know it, you will get to Z. This creates shorter term realistic goals that can be delegated whilst giving the business owner the confidence things are being done and projects moving forward. By breaking big goals into smaller parts, it is easier to celebrate successes and deliver realistic achievable results. This approach helps the perfectionists feel more in control and that they are succeeding (rather than failing because they haven’t got to Z yet!). It also helps them let go and delegate more and have realistic rather than unattainable expectations.