High performing organizations have three times the positive energizers

Teemu Jäntti, June 12, 2018

Positive energizers are those who uplift and boost others. They enact positive energy as a behavioral mechanism and thus enforce the high performing organizations. There are three times the positive energizers in high performing organizations than in average performers. How can we build high performing organizations using positive practices such as respect, inspiration and forgiveness.

Why should we care about positive practices?

What is considered to be positive practice? Positive practices are affirming and virtuous. For me the “positive practices” is an academic term for normal good behavior and treating each other with respect and dignity. Positive practices are mainly behaviors, techniques and routines to build self-efficacy and empowerment in the organization. They lead to better performance, contribute to employee well-being and flourishing.

It has been noted that organizations are doing well because they are doing good for the employees and society. When employees bring the best out of each other, we know the positive outcomes follow the actions: profitability, innovation and sustainability. One could say that these are the standard building blocks of a modern expert organization. No magic tricks needed. Just good old behavior skills, mutual respect, leadership, and accountability.

In the research the following six dimensions of positive practices were identified

  1. Respect — People trust and have confidence in one another, treating one another with integrity, dignity, and gratitude Care — People show interest in and respond to one another, genuinely caring for one another as friends.

  2. Support — People honor and support one another in their endeavors, building strong relationships through kindness and helping those who are struggling.

  3. Inspiration — People share enthusiasm and inspire one another y drawing out the good in one another.

  4. Meaning — People are motivated, renewed, and elevated by their work as they see the greater purpose in work and discover its profound meaning.

  5. Forgiveness — People do not place blame on one another for errors but forgive one another’s mistakes.

The important role of positive energizers

The main ingredient in building high performing organization is to have as many positive energizers in the team as possible, since they are the ones who balance the average positivity and bring people into daylight from darkness. And it is important to emphasize that “positive energizer” does not refer to the “hyperbolic always smiling extrovert” -type. It simply refers to people who behave positively e.g. by uplifting and boosting others. Research indicates that high performance organizations have three times as many positive energizers as average organizations do.

The key is how positive practices’ enactment in work relationships produces positive emotions, which can affect others through social contagion processes. It is known that positive mood states enhance a reciprocal effect of helping behaviors, while also increasing self-efficacy and task performance. In work teams, positivity not only enhances individual performance. Others’ positivity can neutralize an individual’s low positivity and uplift performance.

Leading positivity

The importance of team members discovering meaning in their work through interaction with other members has been demonstrated by recent research. Interactions should have mutual trust, respect, and confidence. Team members perform the best under the above mentioned shared values when they believe the best in one another and tolerate mistakes. By doing so they also inspire and charge one another during their daily interactions. Positive employee behaviors can enhance both the climate (i.e. positive working environment) and the performance of individuals and the whole organization.

Managers play a key role in building positive culture into the organization. This can be done by e.g. celebrating successes and mistakes, giving more autonomy in decision making, highlighting team members and sharing success stories. Other way to support individuals is to help them identify their strengths and aspirations and allow job (re-)crafting, which may also lead to discovering more meaning in their work. Managers should also identify the “positive energizers” and enforce their positive impact to other team members. Empowerment and encouragement lead to more energized individuals.

Key takeaways to improve your organization’s performance

  1. Identify and focus on positive energizers and allow them to flourish and charge your workers positively.

  2. Build an organizational culture, which promotes positive behavior and routines by simple tasks.

  3. Listen, empower, re-craft jobs, celebrate successes/mistakes, share success stories and give your employees autonomy over daily decisions.

Background

Positive practices are behaviors that enhance positive affect in employees and lead to organizational performance. A quantitative study of positivity in a team-based food service context elucidated significant relationships between positive practices, social climate, work engagement, and task performance.

Finer delineation demonstrated the importance of team members discovering meaning in their work through mutual interaction that promotes trust, respect, and confidence, with employees believing the best in one another and inspiring one another in their performance. The findings suggest that positivity can foster team member engagement and performance through prosocial actions that demonstrate appreciation, affirmation, and respect, thus promoting greater meaningfulness in work.

Sources

The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 1–30 (2018). Perry E. Geue: Positive Practices in the Workplace: Impact on Team Climate, Work Engagement, and Task Performance. DOI: 10.1177/0021886318773459

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