Here's how consultants help business leaders apply positive psychology in their companies.
TACTICStart meetings by sharing positive client feedback, or have everyone share a recent success story in a minute or less. Wrap up by asking everyone to acknowledge someone or something that made them more effective that week. That will call attention to and foster teamwork.WHY TRY IT?Research suggests gratitude, positive emotion, and engagement improve productivity, reduce turnover, and boost profits. Other research shows measurable increases in happiness and bonding after people share success stories.
2 PERFORMANCE REVIEWS
TACTICRather than emphasizing problems, focus on the worker's value. Ask the employee to take a strengths assessment (such as Gallup's StrengthsFinder, or see authentichappiness.com). If the staffer's strengths are not in sync with his or her duties, try to realign the worker's responsibilities so the person can do what he or she does best each day.WHY TRY IT?Workplace studies show recognition and appreciation boost performance better than criticism. One landmark study of Chinese students found that happier ones solved complicated problems faster. Other theories say happy comments and encounters must outnumber negative ones 3 to 1, since bad emotions are so durable and damaging.
TACTICGet the best fit by hiring for character rather than skills. Seeking out applicants' emotional strengths, such as a sense of purpose, optimism, and emotional intelligence, will help you find employees who'll go beyond the call of duty.WHY TRY IT?Studies show that when strengths match tasks, workers are more likely to achieve what one of positive psychology's founders, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, dubbed "flow"—the pleasant state of complete absorption in a task. Those employees are also (by Gallup's measure) 38% more productive and may make better decisions.
4 A WORKSHOP
TACTICA one-hour or half-day seminar may be able to inspire staff with a sense of purpose and meaning about their work and the company.WHY TRY IT?David L. Cooperrider, a professor of organizational behavior at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management, invented a method called appreciative inquiry. He says that when group members discuss the organization's larger purpose and their contributions, the morale lift has measurable results. Cooperrider says it led garage workers at Roadway Express to come up with $1 million in cost savings. Research with hospital janitors found that when they identified a higher calling—"helping patients heal"—they put in more time and were more conscientious.