Eight tips for creating a happy workplace using positive psychology

By Sarah Lewis, author of ‘Appreciative Inquiry for Change Management’

Sarah Lewis1 webHappy teams are successful teams. And if you want a happy team – however big or small – then you need to make people feel good. If you run a very small business (perhaps just you) then that team may also include your family who have to put up with your long hours and interrupted weekends, so the same techniques (adapted slightly!) can be used to keep them feeling happy too. For example, tell them about your successes, not just your stresses, and let them share their daily successes too.

So here are eight tips from Sarah Lewis to make your team feel great…

1)    Start meetings with a round of success stories. Before you get into the meat of the meeting, usually a litany of problems and challenges, start by giving people the opportunity to share the best of their week.

2)    When a new person joins the team ask the rest of the team to share their success stories with the new recruit.

3)    Always give team members feedback with a ratio of at least three positive comments to every negative one. Research has shown that by reaching and exceeding this magic ratio of 3:1 teams become more innovative in their thinking and so more successful.

4)    Use the Diamond Feedback technique. Diamond feedback is when you both report the behaviour you saw that you thought was good, and give the praise.

5)    Focus on strengths. Helping people understand what their natural strengths are and how to use them, aids performance. Using strengths is energising and engaging for people. The more you can help people find ways to use their strengths at work, the more likely it is that they will become self-motivated in their work. But first they need to know them.

For example, ask people ‘When are you at your most energised at work?’’ What feels really easy and enjoyable for you that others sometimes struggle with?’ and most interesting of all ‘what can you almost not, not do?’

6)    Once you and your team know their own strengths, find ways to use them more at work and, equally important, ways to do less of the work that drains you of energy.

7)    Make sure other people know your strengths, so that they can call on you for opportunities that play to your strengths.

8)    How you respond to someone’s good news is as important for relationship building as how you respond to their bad news. So, to encourage positive relationships at work, help people to be actively positive in their response to other people’s good news. This means not just saying ‘that’s great’, but actively inquiring into how they did it, how they feel and how they hope to build on it.

These tips barely scratch the surface of the interesting research and ideas emanating from the field of ‘Positive Psychology at Work’ so reading around the subject or using tools like the Positive Psychology Concept Cards can really help. For example, the cards offer bite-sized explanations of twenty core positive psychology concepts, with questions to help understand them and suggestions of how to integrate the concept at work.

About the Author

Sarah Lewis M.Sc. C.Psychol is an associated fellow of the British Psychological Society and a principal member of the Association of Business Psychologists. She is an acknowledged Appreciative Inquiry expert, a regular conference presenter and a published author, including ‘Positive Psychology at Work’ (Wiley) and ‘Appreciative Inquiry for Change Management’ (KoganPage). Sarah specialises in working with organisations to co-create organisational change using methodologies such as Appreciative Inquiry, and the practical application of positive psychology.

See: www.appreciatingchange.co.uk. Contact: sarahlewis@appreciatingchange.co.uk, 07973 782715.


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