Using a positive attitude to transform your business
Did you know that contagious enthusiasm is actually a biochemical reality?
Bring positivity to employee interactions and you'll stimulate Oxytocin production—a "feel-good" hormone which enhances our ability to communicate, trust, and collaborate.
But whether or not we use scientific language to define it, we do know the important bit: our attitude influences the mind-set of those around us.
Positivity begets positivity, and this truism is never more real than for those in authority—because we're socially programmed to take our emotional and behavioural leads from our superiors. So for those in leadership positions in the workplace, having a positive attitude becomes a core business concern.
And it's not one you can afford to get wrong. Exude negativity, and employees will follow suit. This manifests in lower levels of staff retention, less initiative and enthusiasm from those who do stick around, and finally, a reduction in customer satisfaction. A direct link, in other words, between negative leadership and lower revenue.
So, what do we mean when we say positive attitude? Well, positivity doesn't mean pretending problems don't exist. Positivity is the attitude, confidence and optimism with which people are treated and problems tackled.
Here are some examples of how a positive attitude can boost morale, promote cohesion, and create a more productive working environment.
Be positively engaging
Employee engagement—that is, genuine emotional commitment—is the bedrock of a productive workforce. It separates workers with their eyes fixed on their goals from those simply watching the clock. Disengaged employees cost the economy millions, whereas teams who score in the top 20% in engagement realise a 41% reduction in absenteeism, and 59% less turnover.
Staff engagement levels are often determined by the positive example set by superiors. Gallup finds that managers account for 70% of variance in employee engagement. Staff who care will make that extra effort; but if an employee feels disengaged, don't expect more than minimum productivity.
You'll spread more positivity through regular contact with your employees than you will by managing exclusively from your office or cubicle.
The Management By Walking Around (MBWA) leadership style encourages a spontaneous approach to this, and is a proven technique for spreading energy, boosting morale, and cultivating a sense of organisational purpose.
Note, however, that you need to strike a balance here. Yes, showing yourself on the battlefield encourages the troops, but hover over them too much, and they'll begin to feel over-scrutinised and mistrusted. No-one said good management was easy!
Keep communication channels open
As a manager or team leader, a positive approach to individual feedback is essential if you want the best from your staff.
89% of HR leaders agree that ongoing peer feedback and check-ins are key for successful outcomes. Staff need to feel appreciated, valued and respected on an individual level, and an endless stream of impersonal group emails won't cut it.
So make time to speak one-on-one with your staff members (once a month is a good rule of thumb), check if there's any problems or obstacles you can help them overcome, and encourage them to voice their opinions.
Stop the gossip
Okay, you're never going to completely eliminate gossip in the workplace. But you do need to keep it in check, because gossip can easily become a breeding-ground of negativity.
This is especially true if you're running a small or medium-sized business, because gossip happens between employees in smaller groups, making it harder to catch or be aware of.
Berating your whole team is counter-productive, since for the most part, staff instinctively keep this office tradition within acceptable boundaries. The trick is to spot the individual going too far, and explain privately the negative consequences of their behaviour.
And remember, with a little cultivation the office grapevine actually becomes a tool for spreading positivity. A sales force swapping tales of their last big win will leave the coffee room with a little extra motivation. You can encourage this at team meetings by sharing individual success stories, and highlighting major accomplishments.
Lead by example
For managers or team leaders, the well-established significance of demeanour as a signal of mood or intent is greatly magnified. Why? Because all eyes are on you, and it's easy to send the wrong message.
Slumped shoulders and a furrowed brow radiates defeat. As a leader, you need to display strength even in adversity.
If negativity starts to creep in, experts suggest a quick walk alone to re-energise yourself. That way, you'll return to the office with your positivity levels back where they need to be.