I posted this over a year ago, but wanted to bring it back. The next 45 days can be the most unproductive of the year. Sideways energy can be rampant in your organization during this time. Now let's be clear, sideways energy is not the same as creating margin or "taking a break" during the Holiday season. Those are two different things completely. So let this be a reminder and a caution to keep your organization "sideways energy free."
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.
- 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. Sideways energy is procrastinating.
- 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 having three sales to close and not calling them back because you are asked to help clean up the office for the Christmas party .
- Sideways energy is an organizational or personal system that takes 4 weeks to move a sale through the process because there is too much bureaucracy.
- Paper shuffling is sideways energy. Dealing with the same problem multiple times is sideways energy. Too many cc’ed emails is sideways energy. Creating new policies for the company that everyone knows will never be implemented is sideways energy. Micromanaging is sideways energy. Lack of trust is sideways energy.
And many times, the reason sideways energy becomes such a regular happening is because there is pressure coming from all sides with an organization- the very top, your boss, and those who you are leading. And the side seems to be the only place to find some relief and maybe focus on something, even if it is not the right thing to be focused on at the time. And growth can cause pressure that facilitates MORE sideways energy. Ultimately, this all leads to a lack of focus, which causes pressure because you choose not to deal with reality and instead want to focus on things that ultimately don’t matter.
How to combat sideways energy? First, realize it exists and will paralyze an organization. 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. And 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.