Putting in longer hours over a period of time does not pay off. Loyal managers are literally sick and tired from spending their lives at work. In the industrial age, people were more like machines. More time on a job meant more widgets were made. That no longer holds true in the knowledge age.
Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy of The Energy Project have developed an assessment and training process to help people rejuvenate and re-engage at work and in their personal lives.
The Energy Project’s ideas are consistent with Stephen R. Covey’s and David Allen’s theories. It’s another view of time. Schwartz and McCarthy say time is a limited resource; energy is renewable. Their concept includes the power of rituals and four dimensions of personal energy.
The four energy dimensions are physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Eating right, getting enough sleep and exercise are the basics to manage the quantity of one’s energy. This is similar to Covey’s Sharpen The Saw. Schwartz and McCarthy add the concept of ultradian rhythms, where humans move from a high-energy state to a physiological trough. When people push through the trough, they deplete their energy reserve.
It is recommended that people develop a ritual to take brief breaks every 90 – to – 120 minutes. The break should allow the person to disengage from work and change channels. It does not need to be a lengthy time period. It can be as simple as listening to a song, making a personal phone call or taking a short walk.
Emotions impact the quality of people’s energy. When people are under a great deal of stress, fight or flight emotions take over, which negatively impacts one’s ability to think and react. It is common for people to become irritable, anxious or inpatient when bombarded by unexpected challenges throughout the day. The first step is to become more self-aware and identify the triggers that cause stress. Next is buying time ritual as a response to these triggers. Deep abdominal breathing for less than a minute will turn off the fight or flight response.
Other recommended rituals to gain positive emotion include expressing sincere, detailed appreciation and changing lenses. People have the choice of perception. People may choose the reverse lens, to see things from the other person’s view; the long lens, to ask how this situation will appear in six months; or the wide lens, to identify what can be learned from the situation.
The mind focuses energy. Schwartz and McCarthy agree with many contemporaries that multi-tasking undermines productivity. Toggling back and forth between tasks is simply a constant state of distraction. Using the previous ritual of 90 – to – 120 minutes of focus ending with a break is their recommendation. Another ritual is to end each work day identifying the most important challenge for tomorrow. One company used this ritual and prohibited meetings during the first hour of the day. Another ritual is focusing on emails only two times a day.
Spirit defines one’s passion and purpose. The rituals include doing what one does best and enjoys most; consciously allocating time to what is most important; and living core values every day. The easiest way to identify values is to list qualities of others one finds offensive. If one finds rudeness off-putting, a core value may be consideration. The next step is to evaluate one’s level of consideration to develop a ritual to bridge a gap between value and practice, if needed.
A few companies including Sony Pictures have embraced The Energy Project. Most companies continue to practice industrial age management in our new world.
Temporal proximity and unclear reason for termination
Loudermilk v. Best Pallet Co., Inc (February 2011) teaches two important lessons. The first is temporal proximity, Loudermilk was terminated the same day he put his allegation of discrimination in writing, as directed by his supervisor. The next lesson, employers need to determine why they are terminating an employee. Best Pallet kept changing the reason and adding new reasons. When there are a number of reasons and conflicting reasons for termination, retaliation appears to be the real motive. The 7th Circuit concluded there was enough inference of retaliation
to let a jury decide.
Indiana’s Immigration Bill
The Senate passed a Senate Bill 590, 31- 18 and it is now headed to the House of Representatives. This bill is similar to Arizona’ s controversial bill. The bill contains penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants and requires employers to use E-verify of new hires. It sets an English-only rule for most government meetings and documents. The bill prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving financial aid or scholarships for college. And it allows police officers to ask for proof of immigration status if there is reasonable suspicion. Written by Mike Delph, R – Carmel who estimates a resulting annual $600 million savings.
Cat’s Paw Cases
Employers can be held accountable for workplace discrimination by supervisors. Recent cases, including Staub v. Proctor Hospital, US Supreme Court (March 2011) suggest employers cannot rely on supervisory documentation, but should conduct an independent investigation of the evidence in a personnel file, and interview the affected employee before deciding to terminate.