As humans we tend to focus on trying to fix what is wrong with us, and therefore as HR professionals we tend to focus on fixing what isn’t working with other people – development plans, performance management, attrition, absence.
Positive psychology is about what we can learn from what goes right – so rather than analysing the reasons people are off sick, speak to them about how they feel on the days they do come in and recreate that more often?
One part of Positive Psychology is about getting the best from people by looking at what they naturally enjoy and are therefore probably already better at or are more willing to invest the time in getting great at.
E.g. a new grad who has never done sales, might not yet be the best sales person in the world – but if you take 2 grads, one who loves talking to people, gets a real kick from “winning” that one will probably get great at sales quicker than the other who finds talking to people draining and gets their satisfaction from the quality of their work not the outcome.
Get people to introduce themselves to the person next to them and tell them one strength of your – what both energises you and you are good at.
Our specialism – psychological wellbeing
While psychological wellbeing may feel like a complicated thing to explain and build, it really comes down to focusing on two factors Sense of purpose - the extent to which they what connects and commits them to work. What makes it feel important and like it has a point for them (beach holiday example) The frequency and consistency of their experience of positive emotions
Those situations could have been described as flow… when we use our strengths in feels natural and absorbing.
When in flow, we’re in a positive state of wellbeing – because have a sense of purpose and elicits positive emotions.
That’s not always the case, and resilience is about being about to pull ourselves back into that when pressure causes us to slip into red or amber
4 components of resilience that we can draw on to overcome challenge…
Can use Strengths Theory to help build people’s resilience in each of the 4 components:
People who don’t use confidence often don’t think about their own strengths and what they can bring. Confidence means having the inner belief that you can get through a situations – if you know what your strengths are you know what you have to draw on to do that. Help people identify their strengths – ask other people for feedback, 360, personality questionnaires, strengths questionnaires, write a list of 8 things that make you amazing – and practice telling people your top 3.
Build on interpersonal strengths – do you get a real buzz out of helping others? Use that in challenging times – to help others get through it to give you a sense of purpose and confidence and to remind yourself that asking for help isn’t a bad thing – others might want to help you. Do you love meeting new people and maintaining a network – then who can you draw on from that network for support?
Under-used strengths – we tend to get into habits and do things in the same way. Think about how else you could tackle a problem, what other strengths do you have that you could draw on? Use as a coaching technique to get people to reframe challenges by thinking only of what other positive approaches they could try. Build and broaden.
Values – strengths are often deeply ingrained in what we value in life – e.g. fairness, open-mindedness, gratitude, capacity for love etc. Use these to get to the bottom of WHY you are doing what you are doing to help give a sense of purpose.
One context that often requires us to draw on our resilience is change.
Change will inevitably have a negative impact on people. Why change a system that works right?
It will impact on our emotions – we feel scared, uncertain, worried, anxious… (not positive emotions)
It will impact on our purpose – we know how things work, how to get things done, we are clear about our role. Change throws this into flux.
Think of the example of musical chairs – we feel safe and happy when we are sat on the chair. As soon as the music starts and we change our position we have a visceral reaction to this change – we feel uncertain, maybe fearful that we are going to drop out of the game.
There is enormous power in positivity when faced with change. Not only can we use Strengths to build up our resilience – which accelerates us through the change curve, but we an also use positivity directly in response to change…
The first way in which you can embrace change and see it as an opportunity rather than a threat is to work on your positivity.
If we are in a negative space when change occurs then we make assumptions about what the new world will be like. We start to imagine feeling confused, looking stupid, and feeling under the weight of a whole host of new pressures.
As soon as something happens that proves one of our theories – we jump on it. “I told you this would happen!”.
But there’s another way. With a positive mindset we start to broaden our outlook…. “Yes this is hard, and yes it’s out of my comfort zone, but actually I’m learning new skills, testing myself and coping really well!”
And it’s a virtuous circle – the more positives we uncover, the better we feel, and on and on.
HR Inspired - The Power Of Positivity: Harnessing Strengths To Create A Good Day At Work
The Power of Positivity:
Harnessing Strengths and Positive Emotions to
create a Good Day At Work
Matt Smeed and Katie Dodsworth
What is Positive Psychology?
“…the scientific study of what goes
right in life, and what we can learn and
apply from this to our daily lives”
What are Strengths?
“Underlying qualities that energise us and we are great at (or
have potential to become great at)” Brewerton and Brook, 2006
• The affective state (balance
between experience of
positive and negative
emotions) that people
• The extent to which people experience a
positive sense of purpose in their work
“In the zone - the mental state of operation in which
a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a
feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and
enjoyment in the process of the activity”
So How Do You Create Positive Change?
The Leadership Impact Model
Strengths: Fast moving
Strengths: Focus on results and
goals; high standards;
completion and delivery.
Strengths: Co-operation and
Strengths: People have
confidence in their own
capability and that of
the group and its