Positive teams are more productive

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An article in the Harvard Business Review tells us that researchers at the University of Michigan have discovered a way to improve employee performance without increasing perks, benefits, or deploying new processes.

They call the new approach “positive and virtuous practices”.

Apparently these new practices:

  • increase positive emotions, amplifying creativity, bringing out the best in people
  • buffer against stress, improving employees’ ability to bounce back from setbacks
  • attract new employees and bolster existing ones, increasing loyalty to the firm

How can firms achieve these results? Well, there are four main ways: leadership, culture, retreats / workshops, and by moving forward one small step at a time.

Specific practices seem almost trivial: “Tell people three things you value about them. Positively embarrass someone each day. Keep gratitude journals.” But the point is they work.

Companies that carry out these practices notice visible improvements in performance within weeks and months.

The six guiding principles are:

  • Care for, be interested in, and maintain responsibility for colleagues as [people] (7)
  • Provide support for one another, including offering kindness and compassion when others are struggling (7)
  • Avoid blame and forgive mistakes (2)
  • Inspire one another at work (6)
  • Emphasise the meaningfulness of the work (4, 5)
  • Treat one another with respect, gratitude, trust & integrity. (7)

The numbers in brackets refer to the chapters of inner leadership that cover these topics.

And we would add one more key skill to this list: learning to see challenges as an opportunity. This is covered in Chapter 3.

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