How companies can use hope as a business strategy
Hope has the ability to give an employee the sense of purpose in what he/she does at work
Researchers agree that hope is characterised by an expectation that a desired goal will be attained, and hence companies can use this psychology to achieve more success in business
I recently read a very interesting article on how instilling hope in your employees could be your next business strategy. This is a part of a research by Shane J. Lopez, Ph.D., professor at the University of Kansas, Gallup senior scientist, and a leading researcher on hope. In a Q&A session, Dr Lopez expressed that hope is an attribute that can be measured, increased, and deployed. And he contends that hope plays a central role in business as it drives persistence, motivation, goal setting, and innovation.
Hope is not a brand new concept in psychology though. In 1991, the eminent positive psychologist Charles R. Snyder and his colleagues came up with ‘Hope Theory’. According to their theory, hope consists of agency and pathways . The person who has hope has the will and determination (agency) that goals will be achieved, and a set of different strategies (pathways) at their disposal to reach their goals.
Add meaning to work – Many of us struggle to find the real meaning behind the work we do at office. Hope has the ability to give an employee the sense of purpose in what he/she does at work. As noted by Professors Morten Hansen and DacherKeltner of Universirty of California, Berkeley in their HBR article, the phrase "meaning at work" refers to a person's experience of something meaningful — something of value — that work provides. That is not the same as "meaningful work," which refers to the task itself. Work is a social arena that provides other kinds of meaningful experiences as well. These could be attached to social causes and an employee is able to envision his role in creating a better community.
Evaluate the ‘What if’s’ – "Great leaders help people plan for 'what ifs,' such as good and bad economic fluctuations, changes in personnel, or losing a good boss or colleague," says Dr Lopez. In the current economic scenario, leaders and managers must help employees to plan for the future by considering all dynamics of the situation-at-hand. Using hope to ensure that fear, turnover, "survivor's syndrome," and sinking morale don’t sabotage performance or damage the company culture."Think about what your company will look like and how you will feel when you have accomplished your big goals at work. Then compare that to how you see the company and yourself today," suggests Dr Lopez.
View the business of the future – Most individuals find hope by looking forward to planned events, like a child’s graduation from high school, a wedding, or another type of gathering with friends and loved ones. Adopting a similar approach, an employee – when shown a hopeful path at work, looks forward to work on projects that will help him/her in career growth. By focusing on the company’s vision, and providing hope to employees about their career, a leader makes them invest in the vision too. The awareness of the business goals and the leadership’s hopes results in a team of aligned people focused on the same positive goal.
One could definitely argue that in business, it is about tangible results and presenting bare facts and the truth to your employees. But through this research one can understand that hope is about bringing a positive psyche in place, that helps employees envision a brighter future. And hence it works well, if used in the right manner as a business strategy.
In the end, making hope your business strategy is about relationship building with your employees. Hope is the belief or expectation that a positive outcome lies ahead. It is a way of thinking, feeling, and acting that may help you find ways to live with and through difficult situations. Applying this emotional connect, to harness employee engagement at the workplace, is bound to have some eye-opening results. And in a tough economy, hope and communication at the workplace are more important than most executives might think.