Often, as managers, we focus on what it takes to get under-performance in check. But for many of us, the days of under-performance among our teams are behind us, happily. The problem is that we get set in our ways: the things we did worked, so we continue to do them.
There are a slew of books with titles and content that should warn us of the risks of this approach, however. I only have to swivel my chair 180 degrees and let my gaze alight on a few titles on my shelf to instantly spot Good to Great, What got you here won’t get you there, and Unstuck.
But to me, the most compelling ideas come from Positive Psychology, and its younger sibling, Positive Organisational Scholarship, which applies the ideas to corporate life. For this I owe a big debt to Sarah Lewis – a UK-based expert on Positive Psychology at Work (incidentally, the name of her excellent book).
I would like to extract three key ideas that she stresses and I apply in my own consulting and my new book, Powerhouse.
Move from a focus on failure to learning from success
Yes, even the best still make mistakes, but you know what? When they do, they know it. When leading, turn your attention to what is working and start asking questions around how to systematize and enhance the behaviours, attitudes and processes that work.
Less feedback on shortcomings, more celebration of success
When we start to celebrate our successes, we feel good about ourselves, and grow in confidence. With more confidence comes better performance, which in turn drives better results. Better results lead to more successes and, when we get a success, what do we do? We celebrate. It’s a virtuous circle of positive feedback… using feedback there in the physics sense!
De-emphasise rules and make constructive conduct your priority
No-one is saying flout the rules (well, if they are genuinely stupid, then there is a case to be made, but its better to just get them changed). But rigid adherence to rules won’t get top performance. Supporting people and doing nice things for them because you can is the way to win loyalty and boost motivation.
Will these three shifts create a Powerhouse organization on their own? I don’t know, but I suspect they can. What I do know is that simply enforcing rules and looking for failures to fix ain’t going to cut it if you already have a good organization and you want to make it great!
My newest book is Powerhouse.
You can learn more about Powerhouse or buy Powerhouse from Amazon: