What's left to invest?  Cognitive, emotional & physical availability

If employees are to invest their true-selves fully into their work roles for the pursuit of work goals, they need to have sufficient physical, intellectual and emotional energy and focus to do this. William Kahn referred to this as Availability - The degree in which a person is capable of investing their true-self into their role performance, is influenced by the distractions which are more or less preoccupying the person while they are attempting to perform their work role.

Quick Poll

At work I feel able to channel my energy and talent into the things that are going to make the biggest difference to the success of the organisation.
Every day
Most days
Some days
Never !!

Let's focus just on the workplace factors which influence this.  Here are four groups of factors that are likely to affect the level of physical, cognitive, and emotional energy and focus available for the investment into job performance.

Demands on physical energy

How physically draining is the environment and how much physical energy is left over for investment into the performance of the primary role itself? 

This is affected by things such as work hours, gap between consecutive periods of work, intensity of work, level of stimulation available from the work, competing physical demands such as standing or climbing, and travel schedules. The issue of physical energy is pretty obvious in manual jobs, but it is easily under estimated in other roles such as those that do not require great physical exertion but which are nevertheless very tedious. 

Demands on emotional energy

How much emotional energy is being siphoned off to deal with workplace issues other than the performance of the primary role? This is the level of emotional resource available for investment into role performance. Environmental factors which influence this include leadership style / behaviour, the nature of the interaction with others in the team, and thoughts and feelings about the organisation in general including what it is trying to achieve.

Competing tasks and priorities

All the things leaders and employees have to do in their workplace roles compete for the available  physical, cognitive, and emotional energy within each individual as well as the team.  Leaders and employees can influence engagement levels by ensuring that there is sufficient space, energy and opportunity to focus on the deployment of 'true-self' - hearts and minds into the performance of primary roles.   

Workplace uncertainly and insecurity

Workplace uncertainty / Insecurity. The argument is that insecurity leaves less room for the investment of true-self in role performances. Factors that influence this include, the level of confidence in one's own abilities and status, ambivalence about fit within the organisation's social system, concerns about organisational change initiatives, including constant, unstructured or ungrounded change. 

How much energy and passion do your employees have left to invest in a stellar role performance?

"When employees physical, intellectual, and emotional energies are being consumed by other workplace factors, there isn't enough energy left for the investment of true-self in the performance of the primary work role.  Leadership style, interaction with co-workers, systems and procedures, organisational culture, as well as job design itself all influence the level of employee availability which in turn impact employee engagement and so it helps to ensure these are not all consuming at the expense of the primary task." 

Scott Constantine - Organisational Development Consultant - Insight, Change & Performance


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(c) 2012 S.R Constantine. All rights reserved.