Why boosting positivity ultimately equals productivity

If you’re a manager, you’re probably familiar with the established ways to increase skills and productivity in your team. Training, mentoring and company-sponsored tuition reimbursement are all traditional avenues to a higher-performing team, at least according to corporate wisdom. But despite your best intentions, the traditional route may not result in a corresponding increase in team productivity – at least not immediately.

Whether you decide to embrace those methods or not, there’s another effective way to help your team boost their productivity – and it doesn’t cost a cent. I’m talking about embracing positivity.

A recent study shows happy people are more productive

Not only do positive people influence the environment around them, which helps elevate happiness in the workplace, but they’re also more productive according to several studies.

A University of Warwick study found that companies who invest in employee satisfaction will see a more productive workforce; one professor said: “Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%, they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.”

The study showed that because happier staff use their time more effectively, workplaces that make a deliberate effort to be emotionally healthy will see business gains that range from employee retention to profitability.

Of course, it’s not as simple as snapping your fingers and telling your team to think positive. The natural team process – forming, storming, norming, performing – will snag different employees in different places. After coming together (forming), the team adjusts to each other’s personalities and work styles and negotiates responsibilities (storming). This is where cynical or unhappy team members can slide into negative thinking and assume the storming portion of the collaborative process will last forever – and that they’ll suffer as a result.

Those negative expectations can lead to a failure in building relationships, a stagnation in assignment completion, and ultimately a dismal impact on results. This can stop the natural segue to balance (norming) and finally working on collective goals together (performing). On the other hand, if the team begins the process with positive expectations, and set the standards for positive thinking and behaving, they’ll be more focused on achieving goals, working through conflicts and reaching the norming and performing stages.

So just how do you as a manager take your team to a positive place?

Establish a culture of optimism

Look in the mirror. One of the best ways to encourage a culture of positivity is to embrace an optimistic attitude yourself. Maybe it’s not in your nature; maybe you’ve got personal problems at home that have you a little preoccupied these days. Regardless, your performance as a manager will depend on how well you condition yourself to think positively and adopt an attitude of gratitude. Your staff will mirror your attitude toward the company and toward your specific department workload, so be sure to set the right example. When a pessimistic thought enters your mind, try to transition to a more positive mindset. Over time, it’ll become a more natural part of your character and your staff may be inspired to do the same.

Set healthy expectations. Even though you can’t mandate that your team be happy, you can help them by consistently focusing on the positive. For instance, start or end staff meetings with each team member sharing at least one “win” or new development for which they are thankful. Some managers even show a short film clip by a comedian, motivational speaker, or play music to kick off meetings. If the road to a certain outcome might get a little rough, prepare your team in advance so they don’t become discouraged by obstacles.

Be transparent. You can foster trust in your employees by being as transparent as possible about what’s going on in the organization. This includes giving your direct reports notice about upcoming large or high profile projects, being honest about any roadblocks and discussing any negative media reports or rumors. Also, being honest about your own vulnerability or saying you don’t know what the future holds can build a lot of trust with your team.Your team wants a leader they can turn to with their hopes and their fears – being open with them will help establish that rapport.

Appreciate your people. Lastly, remember to give positive feedback when it’s deserved. Call out good results and good deeds in a genuine way. Disingenuous compliments fall flat; your staff may question your motives and the purpose of the compliment is lost. Conversely, if you see that a team member is down, ask if there’s anything you can do to help. A caring manager who demonstrates concern for a staff member’s well being can make the difference between an employee who leaves the company and an employee who works through an issue and stays to become a top performer.

10 Tips for Men to Communicate Better with Female Coworkers

Gender Cooperation Workshops

It may surprise you – as it did me –that there are still times when men have difficulty finding common ground with their female colleagues. There’s always work to talk about, right? But many men feel they can’t connect with women like they can with other guys, by inviting them for an after-work beer or talking about last night’s football game.

Often they’re afraid of their approach being misconstrued or that other colleagues might look askance on them for mentoring emerging female leaders. As a result, some professional relationships suffer and the team doesn’t work quite as efficiently as it could. Men and women both miss out on opportunities to build advantageous new connections in their industries.

If that sounds familiar, here are ten tips to help men connect with female colleagues:

  1. Be authentic in every interaction. Nothing creates “awkward” like a coworker who thinks you’re trying to be something you’re not.
  2. Listen. Ask more questions in conversations, and comment to show you’re engaged and interested.
  3. Identify topics to talk about – like world news, culture and industry trends – rather than relying on typical small talk about work and sports.
  4. Family is always a safe area. Parents love to talk about their kids and this can provide you with common ground to bond over.
  5. Don’t view attractive female colleagues as something to be avoided. Think of them as sisters or girls you grew up with and treat them like anyone else.
  6. Don’t worry about how you’re being perceived by others. Focus on learning from your coworkers and collaborating to create the best possible results.
  7. Come up with networking goals before conferences and events. For instance, decide you’re going to meet three new professionals in your industry and learn three specific facts about their background and current position.
  8. Praise coworkers on their professional abilities or share a technique that’s brought you success. Remember tip 2 – listen more than talk.
  9. Don’t stick to your clique at work. Attend some of the social team-building events to meet new coworkers at all levels and build genuine connections.
  10. Don’t assume your new female contact is less accomplished or educated, or needs your assistance. What you might view as “help” might be perceived as condescension. Get to know her background and treat her as a peer, not a subordinate.

Remember, most of your coworkers want to minimize awkward moments, too. Authentic and positive work relationships benefit everyone – and if you reach out to women in your workplace and industry in a respectful way, that’s exactly what you’ll build.