Emotional states are an overlooked resource in the workplace. How we feel affects how we work individually and together as well as our resilience to stress and our creativity. Unlike other resources to help our staff in these straitened times, positive emotional states are a zero-cost, renewable, source of energy. And they make a difference to those around us.
And so it has come to past that from time to time I find my self teaching groups ‘coaching skills’. Sometimes this is groups of managers, sometimes fledging professional coaches, and sometimes people with post-graduate coaching degrees or similarly impressive credentials. And yet, for all these groups, one of the hardest challenges seems to be developing the skill of asking questions rather than more tempting options like: offering solutions, giving advice, sympathising, sharing their own experience, or in some other way failing to inquire.
Many of us have noticed a strange paradox but been unable to put a name to it. We believe that a job that doesn’t demand too much of us should mean we have plenty of energy left over for our real interests. Furthermore, we anticipate that if that job not only doesn’t demand much of us but also pays us very well, then we should experience happiness: we have beaten the system! We are being paid for doing practically nothing, what could be a better arrangement?
And yet, after an initial sense of triumph, it can slowly become apparent that the logic - lots of money for little work equals happiness and a fulfilled life - doesn’t work out. Instead we feel, well, that something isn’t right. That despite the income we aren’t happy at work.
Last year I ran an evening event I called a Learning Network Event. The purpose of the evening was to provide a space for those interested in positive psychology to share and learn from each other in a gently facilitated way. We used a world café process to stimulate conversation and to ensure cross-pollination amongst those present.
In many workplaces conversation is regarded as an adjunct to the real work of getting stuff done. All too often a request for a conversation is experienced as an interruption, a distraction from real work. Seen as a necessary evil, the objective is to complete the conversation as quickly as possible so all involved can get back to work. While the topic of conversation may be regarded as important, the quality of conversation doesn’t even register. This is very unfortunate as the quality of any conversation will have an impact beyond the moment.
Lots of people feel instinctively that happiness and wellbeing at work must be important. But are they a business necessity or a ‘nice to have’. Surely it makes more sense to ensure your business is profitable and thriving before you start worrying about how people feel?
Increasingly research suggests that investing in employee wellbeing by ensuring positive work relationships, an emphasis on strengths-based development, and worker happiness has productivity pay-offs. So why delay, start promoting positive psychology practices at work today!
Forgiveness has an image problem. Asked to forgive people say: ‘but I can’t forget what they did’ or ‘I can’t imagine ever being friends again’ or ‘but I want them punished.’ These responses show a confusion between forgiveness, reconciliation, forgetting and justice.
I have recently come across a great paper about human energy, it is referenced at the end of this piece. It set me thinking about what it was saying in relation to Appreciative Inquiry. These are my thoughts.
A key challenge for leaders and managers is developing the capacity of their staff or team. Taking a coaching approach allows you to focus on drawing out motivation rather than trying to push it in! It allows you to create energy and motivation and it is usually experienced as an empowering process by your coachee. It helps people develop their intiaitive and sense of ownership of their work and tasks, and, in general, converts potential into capacity.
Here are seven tips to help make your coaching conversations highly productive.
Brief Account of the book
The book is based on two rounds of research undertaken by the authors in collaboration with their MBA students. They identified the organizations initially by asking the question ‘Tell us about some companies you love. Not just like but love.’
Given this is it surprising the extent to which organizations struggle with the concept of change in organizations. Myths abound. Working with organizations I constantly hear the refrain ‘people don’t like change’ and ‘change is hard’. Neither of these statements are necessarily true, as we see below. What is true is that the way we understand organizations, understand change, and go about achieving change can make the job much harder than it need be.
In 2005 David Bolchover took it upon himself to find out what actively disengaged employees do when at work (and also when not). Scouring the research, he found that:
- 1 in 3 people have taken illegal drugs at work: ecstasy, cannabis, and cocaine
- 1 in 5 people have had sex at work
- 70% of porn site hits happen during working hours
- The actively disengaged have twice as much time off sick (and many of them are to be found at Alton Towers, apparently)
- 1in 5 people describe themselves as constantly surfing the net, while a majority of people estimate they spend the equivalent of a day a week on non-work websites at work
- 7% send more than 20 personal emails a day
- 1/3 of young professionals confess to being hung over twice a week at work; and
- A quarter of people have fallen asleep at work
Planned change approaches inadvertently encourage people to give up trying to contribute to the change conversation or to influence how it happens. They can become passive, demotivated and demoralised, waiting to be told what to do. It is when the downsides of this approach become apparent that people find their way to me, presenting their challenge as a problem of dis-engagement, poor morale, people needing support during change.
How might the spirit of appreciative inquiry, the desire to ‘grow more of what we want’ help create more effective listening? And how this might help reposition ‘active listening’ as a systemic, dynamic, creative act.
Roffey Park research suggests that there are three key components to employee engagement: my job, my organization, my value. Their report ‘The human voice of employee engagement: understanding what lies beneath the surveys’ gives a full and readable account of the factors that make a difference. A key finding is that pride is at the heart of employee engagement.