How many times have we looked at our performance and said, 'That’s the area that I need to work on to get to the next level!'? I am sure, every single time we have analyzed our own performance. And while awareness of one’s growth areas is of utmost importance, how many times have we stopped to say, 'Maybe if I focus on this strength a little bit more and design concrete next steps, I am going to definitely get to the next level'? My guess is not as many times as the former.
The focus of the field of Psychology post World War II, only naturally lay significantly on curing mental illnesses. Therefore, the ability of this science to actually enhance human life was largely forgotten. Of course it was greatly beneficial to have the experts of mental health focus on helping people come out of suffering and serious mental disorders at that time, and we continue to reap the benefits of this effort even today.
The same logic applies to our organizations. Imagine yours as your mind. One that produces so much thought in a day, a lot of which translates into action. This action takes up a lot of our time and energy. Currently, while we may assess strengths and areas of development in our organization, we tend to then provide excessive support and focus on bridging what we identify as gaps in our performance.
As Seligman began to introduce us to the advantages of positive psychology in 1998, it was realized that there lay a lot of scope in greatly improving the lives of people through strengthening their strengths. To apply this in an organization, the key is to get people to feel happy, valued, satisfied and inspired about the work that they do and the place that they are at.
They need to focus on what is working for them while at the same time be cognizant on what needs to improve.
Here are three quick things that you could be doing in your organization to build positivity at work:
Sharing best practices
More often than not, some people have strengths that are helping them get ahead while many of the others are unaware of how to get the same results. When you know a certain trend is working for some people whose performance is particularly good, share what they are doing with the rest of the organization. Not only does this allow these team members to understand what exactly you value about their performance and practices, it also helps many others to see what might be missing among theirs. For all you know, many might benefit from such active sharing. If it goes forward another level, people in your organization might begin to share these best practices themselves, encouraged by the recognition or improvement they have seen it bring about.
Connecting the role to one’s personal vision
Particularly when it comes to understanding how one is connected to the role one is playing in the organization, it becomes imperative for an individual to see how they are contributing to the larger vision. Goal congruence - a connection between what they are working towards through their individual goals and what the organization is working towards as a collective whole - might go a long way in cementing that much-needed bond. Being able to see how even small efforts are contributing to something much larger helps me feel valued and lets me know that my contribution is in fact needed.
Practicing gratitude in various forms ensures that your team members know (even subconsciously) that they are valued. Inculcating the element of gratitude among and for the people in your organizational culture, keeps one constantly aware that they are valued. Surprise gratitude works even better, given that we would not want people to feel that they are recipients of acts of gratitude that are forced. In this case the entire purpose is lost. This goes much beyond the financial rewards that they might receive for their efforts.
Let your people know that everyone else values them for what they do, that their contribution truly matters.
While naturally the tendency might be to bridge the gaps, try strengthening the strengths and see the magic the people around you create.