Positive Meaning

Positive Meaning

In this 6th blog on positive leadership, I will discuss the importance of enhancing positive meaning at work. As human beings, it is in our nature to experience a search for a meaningful life. We actively seek purpose, also at work. When employees experience this sense of purpose in their work environment,  they are likely to be happier, more engaged, and more creative. And when they feel alignment between their roles and the company’s goals, staff turnover goes down and productivity rises.  When the meaning of what we do at work is clear, everyone, from the CEO to the customers, will feel the positive effects.   What is meaningful work? Having a meaningful job is about the ability to use one’s skills and strengths to the maximum potential and the feeling that the daily tasks are valuable and contribute to a larger project. This feeling of meaning concerns individual flourishing and commitment as well as long-term sustainable innovation, and performance in organizations. Some people bring a sense of meaning and mission with them into the workplace, sometimes it is the organisation that excels at creating a meaningful workplace.   3 different work orientations People work for many reasons. Amy Wrzesniewski, Professor of Organizational Behavior at Yale University’s School of Management has been studying a classification system that can help to recognize one’s orientation toward a job and find ways to attain greater job satisfaction. She describes three different work orientations. People see their work as a job, a career or a calling. When they look at it as just their job, then work is being regarded as a source...
Positive Climate

Positive Climate

In my previous blog, I described the first step towards a positive leadership approach, the positive mindset. We need to learn to see possibilities instead of only what is present and focus on strengths instead of weaknesses. In this third blog, I will explore the strategy of building a positive climate in the work environment. This is not about just implementing a culture of positive thinking, in which negative events are being ignored. It is about using evidence-based practices to cultivate a professional environment that promotes psychological safety, growth and goal attainment. In a positive climate, employees feel more positive than negative emotions which will enable them to move from functioning to flourishing. And well-being – not just performance- is a key element of success. The leader’s influence Gallup is an American analytics and advisory company known for its public opion polls conducted worldwide. Their research shows that up to 70% of the climate in a team is determined by the leader. This means he has a huge impact on an individual’s decision to stay or go and on the employee engagement. And that engagement is directly linked to higher productivity, profitability and quality, as well as lower turnover, less absenteeism and fewer safety incidents. What leaders do, is more important than what they say. They set the tone. We know that emotions are contagious, so when leaders are aware of their impact and display a positive attitude it will reflect on their team, and also impact interactions with others at work. The research is showing clearly that when a company raises employee engagement levels consistently across every business...
The Benefits of Fostering ‘Belonging’ in the Workplace

The Benefits of Fostering ‘Belonging’ in the Workplace

Belonging – What is it? To feel a sense of belonging means to be accepted… It’s a human need, just like the need for food and shelter. Feeling that you belong is vitally important to seeing value in life as well as coping with intensely painful emotions. Why would we be interested in ‘Belonging’ in the workplace? …. why is it important? Belonging and supportive relationships are critical in the workplace, not only to career development but to employee engagement, effective project work and the effectiveness of teams. Having someone to turn to in moments of stress and pressure are key to how we respond and react to those events. Being able to share concerns, as well as successes and getting advice and guidance on the best way forward. Matthew Critchlow [1] at the University of Westminster describes supportive relationships as having three components, Belonging, Sharing and Practical support. What does it feel like to ‘belong’ in the workplace? It might feel like there’s an appreciation of each other for our unique backgrounds, or that we can really simply just be ourselves at work without worrying about whether that’s acceptable or whether we’ll be judged. It might simply be being accepted without condition. The importance of Belonging applies to everyone, not just a selected few. Diversity is measured by numbers and percentages. Inclusion is measured by whether you feel included, whether your insights and perspectives matter….Is this enough? Fostering belonging at work is essential if we want to retain our talented employees. If people don’t feel like they belong, that their differences aren’t celebrated and they’re not supported, they won’t stay, and you risk...
Can Positive Psychology Enhance Your Holiday

Can Positive Psychology Enhance Your Holiday

Time for a break As the schools break up in the U.K. for the summer vacation, many people are focussed on their upcoming annual holiday. The nature of “the holiday” varies from something that people spend significant money on and involves travelling to far flung places through to some time at home or visiting relatives. However, the underlying idea is to have a break from work to allow rest, relaxation and recuperation. Research suggests that without such breaks our well-being can suffer. So even though some studies suggest the effect of a holiday on well-being can appear relatively short lived, on some measures, they are good for us (de Bloom, Geurts & Kompier 2013). Can we get more benefit from our holiday? So can Positive Psychology help us to get a better return on our investment of time and money in our holiday? I think so. Let’s look at “the holiday” from the point of view of Seligman’s PERMA model of well-being. This suggests five key features which underpin well-being and flourishing which are; Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Achievement. We will look at each in turn. Positive Emotions De Bloom et al. (2013) found positive and pleasurable experiences to be key to boosting well-being during and after a vacation in their study of 54 employees. Holidays are a time when give ourselves permission to be hedonistic and learning to savour these experiences can promote well-being. Savouring means intensely focussing on a pleasurable experience leading to it being both enhanced and prolonged. This is a skill that can be developed with practice. You can also savour an experience...
Supportive Relationships Enhance Resilience.

Supportive Relationships Enhance Resilience.

How much do you enjoy your work relationships?… If you answered ‘a lot’ to this question you’re likely to be significantly more resilient than people who answered ‘not at all’… We invest a lot of our time and energy at work, it can be miserable when relationships are strained, and now research has shown that it’s not only unpleasant, it is detrimental to the organisation as well as the individual. [1] We now know that social support in the workplace is an important factor  in determining whether an organisation successfully navigates a turbulent environment or not. Organisational change programmes are a case in question, they’re difficult enough when effectively managed but when the individuals and teams affected don’t have resilience strategies to help them to cope and relationships become strained the chance of the programme being a success reduces dramatically. At both the individual and organisational level, social support is a critical factor in bolstering the capacity to bounce back from challenges, stress or hardship. Working collaboratively builds relationships and resilience. Do you invest enough time in your work relationships? Are you able to invest time into your work relationships? Is your organisational culture conducive to this? I still remember with affection, a team that I worked in over 20 years ago, there were 3 of us, all in HR working a fast paced retail environment in central London. The relationship had formed over a hectic 2-year period where we problem solved together, helped each other out and were open and non- judgmental. No one told us to be this way, it just happened because the relationships were there...
Can Your Job Make you Happy?

Can Your Job Make you Happy?

Job, Career or Calling? Most people spend a large part of their life at work. How can this significant investment of our endeavor contribute to our happiness? Seligman (2002) suggested that individuals can see their work as a job, a career or a calling and that which of these conceptualisations you adopt influences your happiness and well-being. Viewing work as a job means you feel it’s simply a means to an end. It provides you the money to keep a roof over your head and feed your family. A career is seen as a job with organisational progression where, above your financial needs, you also find a means to progress and gain status and advancement in terms of knowledge, skills, achievements and usually money too. Generally speaking a career is what your parents want you to have (or what they think they want you to have!) and what most of western society strives to pursue. A calling however, means you view your work as connected to a wider sense of purpose and/or meaning. Construing your work as a calling is associated with greater engagement and organisational commitment as well as a sense of greater fulfillment and improved well-being. But not everyone can be a brain surgeon Not everyone can be a brain surgeon I hear you say? Well, no of course not. We have this idea of people who have these wonderful, meaningful callings as few and far between and out of reach for us mere mortals. Not so, this is a misconception. Finding meaning in your work and connecting with a purpose greater than the extrinsic outcomes of...