Are you busy but not intentional? Do you feel like you are just spinning your wheels and not getting any traction? Could be you are dealing with way too much "sideways energy." There is good energy and bad energy- and bad energy usually shows up as sideways... not because it is necessarily bad, but because it is usually a distraction.
The greatest threat to forward momentum might not come against you from outside, but alongside you. Often, offices engage in activities that do little to propel the office or team forward. People are working. Busyness is occurring. But little forward movement is experienced. This is what we refer to as "sideways energy."
Sideways energy is anything that directs you away from your vision. Sideways energy manifests itself as daily or weekly habits or behaviors that aren't in support of your vision.
- Sideways energy is the same meeting eight times in a row regarding the same idea that still has yet to be implemented.
- Sideways energy is showing up to work but spending two hours talking about what you should have done an hour and a half ago.
- Sideways energy is gossiping about your boss or co-workers.
- Creating new policies or procedures for the office that everyone knows will never be implemented is sideways energy.
- Dealing with the same problem multiple times is sideways energy
How to combat sideways energy?
First, realize it exists and will paralyze an office or team.
Second, identity it and deal with it.
Third, measure your productivity and create a system that will help you determine how much sideways energy you are creating, both for yourself as well as for your team.
Finally, be clear on your goals and what the right kind of energy looks like for your team- if you model the right kind of energy, your team will follow in the same direction.
What makes sideways energy so dangerous is that it often comes from people on the team, and it is almost never intentional. Good teammates do not seek to derail momentum and take their team off course. Most people have trouble identifying in themselves the words, actions and behavior that are self- debilitating to them and their team.
As a tool to help us self-evaluate, here are a few questions to ask of yourself in the arena of sideways energy:
- Do I have an issue with the vision/direction of my team? If I do, am I discussing that issue with my leader or with my teammates?
- Do I have any issues with people on my team? If I do, is this relational breakdown causing me to perform differently?
- Do I have any issues with the culture of my team? If I do, am I working to adjust or am I asking people to adjust around me?
- Do I have an agenda? Is there something I am attempting to place ahead of the team's vision?
If you work with people, sideways energy will happen. The key is to address it head on with diligence and humility. People rarely want to cause sideways energy, so helping redirect that energy is essential for keeping momentum and helping the person flourish.