Boosting Performance with Positivity

With so much competition existing in the corporate world, teams are constantly being assessed by how well they can perform or out-perform. The surprising element is that a lot of business leaders believe that “performance” is driven by a focus on productivity and achieving set targets. What they are totally missing is that a team’s performance and success is actually maximized by capitalizing on positivity. Julie-ann Odell shares her insights.

Many people think that success leads to happiness, but actually it’s the other way around. A decade of research in positive psychology has found that happiness is the precursor to success — not the result. Research has also proven that happiness and optimism actually fuel performance and achievement, giving companies a competitive edge in what can be called “the happiness advantage”. This advantage grows from the fact that “Positivity”, or positive emotions, has a direct relationship with the productivity and success of individuals and teams. Positivity includes gratitude and appreciation for others as well as self-respect.

It totally explains why companies like Google, Yahoo and Virgin cultivate work environments that help their employees experience positive emotions on a regular basis. As Richard Branson says: “More than any other element, fun is the secret of Virgin’s success.” This doesn’t mean that you have to put a pool table in every office but it does mean finding ways to induce feelings of positivity and making employees feel happy at work, because fun equals happiness and we know that positivity powers up bottom-line results. Even short bursts of positivity have been shown to increase happiness and provide a serious competitive edge.

The benefits of generating a positive work environment include:

• 3 times more creativity

• 31% higher productivity

• 23% fewer fatigue symptoms

• 37% greater sales

• 40% more likely to get a promotion

• 10 times more engaged

Here are some great ideas to create the right kind of positive work environment:

Positive surroundings:Physical environment can have an enormous impact on our mindset and sense of wellbeing. Encourage people to personalize their workspaces with personal pictures, their children’s artwork, pot plants etc. The positive feelings they inspire will help broaden the amount of possibilities our brains can process, making us more thoughtful, creative, and open to new ideas. They also help build our capabilities, making us more productive and successful. Allow time in each day for “positivity breaks.”

Use signature strength:Each time we use a skill we’re good at, we experience a burst of positivity. Even more fulfilling is using character strength, a trait that is deeply embedded in who we are. A team of psychologists led by University of Pennsylvania Professor Martin Seligman catalogued the 24 cross-cultural character strengths that most contribute to human flourishing and developed a survey to identify an individual’s signature strengths. Ask each person on your team to take the free survey at Encourage people to share their strengths profiles and to list ways they can practice their top strengths at work. Find opportunities for them to work on company projects that leverage their strengths and you’ll see both positive attitudes and greater engagement.

Being grateful:More than a decade of empirical studies has proven the profound effect that gratitude has on the way our brains are wired — even if it sounds simplistic. Follow the practice used in several top companies by setting aside a specific time each day to keep a Gratitude list. By taking just 5 minutes to write or share 3 things that made you feel grateful over the last 24 hours, you’re training your brain to tune into the positives and opportunities around you. This positive outlook not only helps people be more successful, it also helps them stay healthier and live much longer. Previous research has shown that expressing gratitude leads to greater levels of optimism and in turn, optimism results in greater levels of sales and productivity.

Commit to conscious acts of kindness:A long line of research shows that altruism decreases stress and strongly contributes to enhanced mental health. Each day, find a way to praise, compliment, or thank someone for something they have done. And, or, leave a card, a chocolate bar or a flower on a colleague’s desk. Along with social activities, make a point of assembly a work team to help out at a local charity in some shape or form.

Work on positive habits:Apart from the powerful daily act of gratitude, it is also very healthy to keep a daily journal, exercise on a regular basis and join a meditation and/or yoga class.

Hire happy personalities:Hiring people who help make the workplace happier will take a little thought and preparation. It is natural to focus on relevant experience and past achievements when interviewing a candidate. But ignoring the personality is a mistake. The greatest candidate on paper might be the worst person to bring into your office. Look for the intangibles. Be very aware of how you feel around the person. Do they seem like they focus on the positives or negatives? Do they laugh? Do they smile? Do they seem like they create and nurture relationships? While their track record in terms of performance is very important, a person that brings doom and gloom to the workplace will kill productivity and motivation.

Be community minded at work:Make a point of encouraging people to say hi to each other. Sounds simple but it is actually a great way to build a sense of workplace community and something that busy focused people forget. Start by making it a policy to have your executives and managers take the time to say hi. Choose ambassadors from all different levels and areas of your company to do the same. Acknowledging people can change the entire atmosphere and make your workplace a much kinder, collaborative place.

Show that you care about your employees:Ever hear of the “Hawthorne effect”? It’s the increase in productivity in the workplace when people feel that they are cared about. It makes people happy to be asked how they are and for you to take a little time to find out how things are going in their lives. It simply means: remembering to take the time to say, “How are you” and mean it.

Focus on the positive:People can get caught up in the negative. They debrief by going over what didn’t work. Turn that around. Focus on the positive. That doesn’t mean that you should ignore the things that need to be improved on, it just means that when you are looking for the good, you will find the good. If you look for the bad, then sadly you will find the bad. All the studies prove that by introducing ways to create a positive environment and encouraging daily positive habits it will lead to a significant increase in productivity. So isn’t it time to lower people’s stress, improve employee engagement levels and bring up the employee happiness scores? Isn’t it time to change the old way of doing things? And isn’t it time to use the power of positivity to enhance performance for people, teams and organizations.

Jupiter Eclipse Training (JET) regularly conducts full day workshops to create awareness, enhance team intelligence and boost team performance. They use a certified program/tool to measure the 14 factors of team productivity and positivity. For more information please call: +2-0111-836-1-836, Email:

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