What does creating a happier workplace take? Raises all around? A retreat where everyone falls backward in a trust exercise? Beanbag chairs? Nope, nope, nope.
The answer is surprisingly simple. To improve learning, resilience and adaptation as well as overall happiness and attachment to the organization and team, people need time and space to experience positive moments with each other, says Jane Dutton, Ph.D., professor of business administration and psychology at the University of Michigan.
Relationships are composed of micro-moments of connection, and positive moments give a big boost to people emotionally, explains Dutton, who researches the impact of positivity within organizations. “Positive emotions compound quickly, and these short-term meaningful interactions stay in people’s minds. It may be as brief as looking at each other with mutual positive regard.”
Dutton visits the same Starbucks every morning, and a barista named Norma knows her well. “The moment I walk through the door, she acknowledges me with a look that makes me feel good,” Dutton says. “I may have felt hassled from the commute, but then that melts away all because of how Norma looks at me. It’s a relational vitamin that recharges me.” This same dynamic of uplifting interpersonal connection can have a great effect in the workplace.
Be willing to share micro-moments, Dutton advises. “People feel more vitality and more positive regard in the moment when they feel like they are at the same level. This idea of mutuality is particularly important in business, where there’s a lot of power and status subordination.”
Consider these high-quality connections as vessels for personal growth. Some work organizations cultivate really good soil that allows these seeds to grow, Dutton says, and they make sure that every point of human contact between suppliers, customers and team members is a positive one. “Not only do people perform better there, but they feel like they are growing into better people. There are multiple payoffs.”
She adds that people who are relationally skilled and routinely create positive moments that lead to high-quality connections are more resourceful, stronger psychologically and more likely to have a better trajectory for their own growth.
How do you create a culture that fosters high-quality connections?
• Hire people who care about connecting with others and are sensitive to building relationships.
• On-board employees wisely. Rather than inundating them with information, facilitate meaningful connections with people who will be important to helping them do their work.
• Make it safe and OK to ask for help and reward those who give it.
Says Dutton: “We are hard wired to connect. Having a high-quality connection mindset opens up a bunch of ways to think about how to build human capability by the way you interact.”
“We are happiest when helping other people,” says Corey Keyes, Ph.D., a founding fellow of Life University’s Center for Compassion, Integrity and Secular Ethics and a sociology professor at Emory University in Atlanta.
But compassion, integrity and ethics can conflict—especially in the workplace, where the bottom line and merit are important. SUCCESS asked Keyes, an expert in positive psychology, how to practice compassion that’s aligned with our own inner compasses:
Q: How do we decide who deserves our compassion?
A: Everyone deserves our compassion, and that even extends to our enemies. There’s a large body of scientific evidence that those who serve others live longer, happier and more purposeful lives.
Q: How important is compassion in the workplace?
Sharpen These 6 Skills and Set Yourself Apart
Want to stand out as a leader? Excel at skills where there is a strong need and weak capacity.
CCL recently analyzed data from 2,339 managers in 24 organizations in 3 countries to understand the leadership gap—the skills that organizations need but their leaders don’t have. Six key gaps were found:
Inspiring commitment. Managers who recognize and reward employees’ achievements are able to inspire commitment from their subordinates. These managers publicly praise others for their performance, understand what motivates other people to perform at their best and provide tangible rewards for significant organizational achievements.
Leading employees. Leaders who have good skills in directing and motivating people know how to interact with staff in ways that motivate them. They delegate to employees effectively, broaden employee opportunities, act with fairness toward direct reports and hire talented people for their teams.
Strategic planning. This skill involves translating vision into realistic business strategies. Managers who are highly competent in this area typically articulate long-term objectives and strategies, develop plans that balance long-term goals with immediate needs, update plans to reflect changing circumstances and develop plans that contain contingencies for future changes.
Read a breakdown of leaders’ strengths compared with the capacity needed to be successful over the next 5 years in a new CCL white paper, The Leadership Gap: What You Need and Still Don’t Have When It Comes to Leadership Talent.
Today is Monday. What is your mind set on? Fear? Stress? Worry?
Success? What if you changed your mind set? Instead of the worse possible scenario playing out, what if…
▪ What if your coaching session today with that challenging employee helped turn them around?
▪ What if you uncover a resolution for that frustrating project?
▪ What if your efforts to build that relationship with a customer pays off today and more business than you imagined comes your way?
▪ What if you get a phone call that changes your life all due to how you’ve stretched and built your network?
Work hard and intentionally today. Success becomes less and less of a surprise.
I was biking with my friends Eric and Adam, both far more skilled and experienced mountain bikers than I, on terrain that was slightly beyond my own skill. I thought I could do it.
I was wrong.
I suffered a pretty dramatic crash, falling down a ravine, flipping over a few times, and hitting my (helmeted) head on a tree. Eventually, I ended up in the emergency room. But not before riding another hour.
Everything turned out fine, but continuing after my crash was a poor decision. Not only was I riding injured, but, because I was tight with fear, I fell many more times.
Why didn’t I stop? I wish I could say it was bravery but, the truth is, it was nothing of the kind. I kept riding, quite simply, because Eric and Adam kept riding.
There are a host of tangled reasons, of course: I didn’t want to disrupt their ride or feel like a wimp who couldn’t handle a few falls, or give up on something that I started. But the real reason? I continued because they did.
It turns out that I’m not alone. The research shows that, even as adults, we tend to conform to the behaviors of those around us. If your colleagues take sick days, then you’ll start taking them too. If your colleagues are messy, you’ll become more messy too.
Which is not such a big deal, really. Until it is.
By now you probably know that, for the past seven years, Volkswagen has been installing software in diesel cars to manipulate emissions tests and illegally sidestep pollution standards. They’ve been lying to millions of consumers.
When Michael Horn, head of Volkswagen Group of America, testified at a recent congressional hearing, he said that he believed only “a couple of software engineers” were responsible.
Seriously? Only a couple? As of 2014, Volkswagen employed 583,000 people. Surely more than two people knew about this deception. Why didn’t anybody say anything?
I’ve written before about how aggressive goal setting can lead to cheating, lying, and misdirected efforts. And certainly we’ve heard that Volkswagen’s culture was brutally focused on achieving their goals..
But seven years and 11 million cars later, you would think that someone would say something. But they didn’t. Because saying something, when nobody else is saying anything, is really, really hard.
Still, that’s what leadership calls us to do. Leadership is the willingness to move in a different direction than others. If we want to lead, then the real question — for you and me — is how can we resist the pull of conformity and stand courageously in truth and right? How can we live the values that make us and our colleagues trustworthy?
1. The first step is to have clear, strong, and committed values. What do you believe in? And how resolutely are you willing to stand behind those beliefs? Are you willing to be vulnerable? To be embarrassed? To be disliked? To be fired? Powerful, trustworthy leaders answer yes to all of those questions.
2. The next step is to want to see what is going on around you.