Those of you who attended our Sundowner Workshop on Positive Psychology experienced how organisational coach Clive Leach is developing its use at a government, education and corporate level globally. In this blog post he gives you practical tips and insights in 5 keys area so you can put positive psychology into practice right away – both for yourself and others. PLUS a special download on Measuring & Building Mental Toughness.
Practical steps towards a more positive workplace – starting now
Ask someone how they are and they’ll quite often respond “okay”, often without thinking. Ask someone if they’re flourishing, however, and they’re unlikely to answer as automatically. ‘Am I flourishing? I don’t know. Am I? And what do you mean by flourishing anyway?’
Flourishing is much more than doing okay. It’s being the very best version of you. It’s about being confident – and feeling confident taking risks. It’s about meeting challenge head on, with relish and energy. It’s about feeling good, at work, with friends, with our families and in the wider community.
- This is good for the individual and the organisation they work for.
- Conversely, organisations where people are not flourishing can suffer: in terms of absenteeism, employee churn, lower productivity…
When I work with organisations, a starting point for this work is often a five point approach called the PERMA model. The PERMA acronym stands for:
- Positive emotion – those emotions that make us feel good about ourselves and others
- Engagement – getting really involved in something, so that time seems to fly by
- Relationships – having strong, positive interactions at home and at work
- Meaning – that higher purpose that goes beyond personal needs
- Accomplishments– getting where we want to be using our skills and our strengths.
PERMA was created by American psychologist Martin Seligman, the founder of positive psychology and whose book, Flourish, was published 5 years ago. Here’s a 5 minute video introduction to PERMA from Martin Seligman
There are hundreds of ways that PERMA can be used but below I’ve listed simple tips and techniques for each of the five areas above and that you can start using right now.
1. POSITIVE EMOTION. Don’t just stay positive – say positive
This is not about being happy all the time.
- Trigger positive emotion at work by simply reminding a team member about some small victory during a day which has otherwise been extremely challenging.
- Instead of going home feeling really hacked off with what they haven’t accomplished they take home a sense of pride about what they have done.
- Writing your thanks in an email – not just saying it – is also shown to bring positive benefits to both the sender and the recipient.
- It’s also good to find time at the end of every day to write down at least one thing that has gone well for you, personally – no matter how small it is.
2. ENGAGEMENT TIPS. Don’t just go with the flow – ‘create’ the flow
Create a work environment where people can play to their strengths, get caught up in the positive aspects of what they do and begin to experience what is called “flow”. According to research by McKinsey, in flow, we are five times more productive than normal.
- One way you can encourage flow is creating a work environment where there are fewer interruptions – reducing the number of meetings for example, or allowing people to go “off grid” and not feel they have to answer every email or phone call.
- Quiet rooms and creative areas (with no clocks and ‘mobile free’), where people can go to think and work without interruptions, also help encourage flow.
3. RELATIONSHIP TIPS. Be nice – beware “negativity bias”
Relationships are so important, yet when we’re under stress it’s these social resources that we put at risk.
- In a work and a social context we can strengthen relationships by being a good listener and finding the time to listen.
On a basic level people generally focus more on the negative so, if we have a challenging interaction at work, negative comments can stick with us.
It takes, 2, 3 or maybe even 4 positive interactions to overcome a negative one.
- Try some gratitude, forgiveness or humour and see how that feels.
- Also try and connect with one new person in the office every week – someone you don’t work with and otherwise would know by sight only.
- Some companies organise staff lunch days where people from multiple teams stop and eat together.
- 40% of us say ‘connections with colleagues’ are the reason we enjoy our jobs.
4. MEANING TIPS. Show people how they’re making a difference
When I work with organisation’s we explore meaning which extends beyond meaningful career, or meaningful family relationships and look at how people can apply their strengths and resources for a ‘greater good’.
- Companies often look for this via a company Corporate and Social Responsibility programme but people need to see that their contributions make a real difference.
- Being able to tie contributions to specific outcomes helps. For example: ‘The money we raised constructed this water pump in this village in Africa and here are the pictures.’
- And when you fundraise for local organisations, get people from the charity or good cause to come in and talk to people about the benefits your fundraising will bring.
- You can also get them come along at regular intervals to give updates on how the money or volunteer time is delivering results.
5. ACCOMPLISHMENT TIPS. Make personal dreams part of business goals
Accomplishment is more than just getting things done. Often our goals are externally driven by things we feel we ‘have’ to do, or ‘should’ do.
- When goal setting for teams try and find out more about what the longer term goals – and dreams – of individual team members are.
- These will go beyond the immediate demands of their job, or targets.
- A step towards these dreams can be as important as triggering the next bonus.
- Listen carefully to what these individual ambitions are and find connections with the organisation’s vision and values.
- Make sure that work accomplishments are recognised by a wider audience.
- For example, hold regular meetings – not just within teams or departments, but across the organisation, where good ideas are shared and acknowledged.
- Or add a standing agenda item to all meetings where people can publicly thank another person for something they’ve done: “I’d like to thank Dave for showing me a short cut to logging customer follow ups on the new CRM set up.”
Mental Toughness download
How we deal with what life throws at us can be determined by our level of Mental Toughness. How you score in 4 critical areas can help identify your strengths and weaknesses and get you where you want to be.
Find out more about how you might score with our Measuring and building Mental Toughness free to download from Bec Development
Mental toughness assessment & programmes
Positive Psychology training, workshops and seminars
We are delighted to have Clive Leach as a Bec Development Associate. Read more about Clive in our COACHES AND TRAINERS section
If you are interested in developing in developing a Positive Psychology approach within your organisation email firstname.lastname@example.org or call or phone 01342 325 952.