Positive Business – What is it?
Creating a positive business is important because the world of business is cut-throat and ruthless. Individuals compete in a job market where they must constantly strive to be better and more successful than their peers. Companies clash head-to-head for customers and a slice of the market share, with those who lose out becoming fading into irrelevance and then into bankruptcy.
In response to the fierceness of capitalism, the field of business psychology has previously focused on individual competence and personal success. Whenever you look for advice on how to improve your career or business, you’ll hear a plethora of buzzwords that all focus on personal skills such as ‘problem solving’, ‘confidence’ and ‘productivity’. In short, business psychology has almost solely focused on improving oneself and learning how to manage a business world where everyone is looking out for themselves.
The positive business movement doesn’t frown upon capitalism and competitiveness. However, it does recognize the importance and meaning of ‘virtuous’ traits in the business world, such as gratitude, trust, energy, positivity, respect, compassion and more.
Whilst the concept of a positive business sounds peachy, we have all experienced the divide between theory and reality. Most businesses would like to be profitable and to have happy employees, but actually implementing the techniques and strategies to achieve both these aims is where the difficulty lies.
Fortunately, research is unveiling tried and tested methods businesses can use to develop positive cultures and see real measurable benefits. To start with, the first stage is that the leader of the business must understand the importance of becoming a positive business. Middle management can espouse the benefits of positivity until the stars die out, but if the people in genuine control of a company are not onboard, then a positive business cannot flourish.
Ultimately, the business leader needs to believe and understand the merits of positivity, even if only in terms of meeting organizational goals. Furthermore, the business leader must also realize that cultivating a positive business takes time. It takes a commitment from the people in charge and it involves carefully developing relationships between employees, gaining their trust and confidence. Positivity cannot be forced or ordered; it must be grown.
Positive Business starts with a Vision
Once the business leader has seen a vision of his or her company as a positive business, it’s time to get other members of the business leadership to share that dream. If the managers and supervisors don’t embrace positivity, then it’s impossible for any employees to believe it either. Positivity radiates and spreads from the top of an organization to the bottom and as a result, the business leader needs to make their first goal to develop a positive culture in their business leadership.
The trick to doing this is focusing on long-term culture goals. Profit and short-term gains are always tempting to chase, but an increasing number of successful companies realize that you must put aside these lures and focus on the foundations of a company and the people involved. Instead of seeing success and profit as your primary objective and a positive business culture as a side goal, understand that a positive culture leads to success and profit. Whilst you can’t ignore your business strategy and performance altogether, you must take to heart that positive culture is the key to those figures.
Once you have a powerful positive business goal, a positive leadership team and you understand the importance of long-term planning, it’s time to initiate small steps towards positivity. As touched upon previously, positivity must be grown. You cannot shove positive traits down people’s throats or make people change overnight. However, you can make people more receptive to positivity over time. Perhaps you increase the length of lunch-break by 10 minutes or encourage your employees to take part in small periods of meditation offered throughout the day. Adding smaller steps like these progressively over a period of months will bring your employees around to positivity and allow the changes that have been made to resonate with them.
Most importantly, a positive business most treats people as people. An attitude of care should be extended to all colleagues and support should be provided and offered whenever possible. Blame shouldn’t be dished out and any mistakes that have been made must be forgiven and moved past. Employers and business leaders should help their employees find meaning in their work; engagement in the workplace is the single largest quality in employee retention. Likewise, everyone needs to treat each other with integrity and respect; this includes both regular employees to one another, but especially from management to everyone else.
To help foster these qualities you need to help employees develop social connections between each other. Research has consistently demonstrated that people with strong social connections are happier, healthier and live longer. Happy and healthy employees are naturally more productive and more engaged in their work[ii].
Positive Business – Positive Attitude
It’s also important to display empathy, both individually but also encourage it as part of your workplace culture. By displaying empathy you develop commitment and loyalty in your employees. Furthermore, you can even turn a bad chain of events into a positive experience for an employee; helping them overcome their difficulties and making them feel valued and secure in their work.
On a related note, you must also encourage people, including yourself, to offer help, even when not necessary. In general, people dislike asking for help; many interpret it as a sign of weakness or incompetence and they will avoid asking for aid unless there is no other choice. However, by going the extra mile and offering help, employees who feel like they are struggling will often accept and embrace help, which often translates to better performance on their job and workplace satisfaction.
Furthermore providing help also reinforces and strengthens the bond of loyalty and trust developed by showing empathy. Has anyone ever gone out of their way to help you in the past? If they have, you probably remember it, even if it was years ago; the feelings of gratitude can last a lifetime. In a workplace context, offering help, even when it isn’t asked for, can encourage a reciprocal attitude, which is crucial to cementing a positive culture in your business.
Finally, be willing and happy to talk to your employees about any problems they might have. Employees need to know that they won’t be reprimanded by raising a concern or feel frightened and insecure about the consequences of talking about problems. This not only improves employee job satisfaction, but it can also make your workplace more efficient by having problems dealt with quickly instead of lingering. It also encourages people to experiment and try new solutions to problems, because they are less concerned about making mistakes and causing small problems. This, in turn, can lead to an increase in creativity and innovation, which is increasingly important for businesses in the global market.
To conclude, there are several prerequisites to developing a positive business a positive business
- Understanding the importance of virtuous traits such as trust, empathy, and positivity
- Having an inspired and positive leadership, lead by the CEO of the business
- Focusing on a long-term goal of positive culture, even at the cost of short-term rewards
- Gradually implementing improvements to employee well-being
- Valuing members of the business as people, encouraging people to talk about problems, find help and seek support
A positive business seeks to look out for the well-being of its employees, which in turn increases workplace productivity and loyalty between employees and the organization. Happy employees are more resilient to stress and better able to deal with unexpected problems and challenges and they often seek to push their own skills and capabilities. There are many techniques to transition your business into a positive business, but the most important message is to respect and value your employees and staff and invest in their happiness
Positive Businesses is an organization that can help you understand more how to become a positive business, if you want to be in touch with one of our team please click here http://positivepsychologydirectory.com/businesses/melbourne/positive-psychology/positive-businesses/
[i] Cameron, K.S, Dutton, J.E. and Quinn, R.E (2003). Chapter 4 in Positive Organizational Scholarship (pp. 48-65)
[ii] Cameron, K.S, Mora, C., Leutscher, T. and Calarco, M (2011). Effects of Positive Practices on Organizational Effectiveness. Ross School of Business, pp 3-4.