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Building positive culture in the workplace, Part 2

This month, we began a series on building positive culture in the workplace. We discussed Barbara Frederickson’s Broaden and Build Theory, which asserts that the more positivity we experience, the likelier we are to exhibit behaviors such as: discovery, awareness, and curiosity.

In order to experience more positivity, then, it would behoove us to consider and study positive psychologist and author Martin Seligman’s PERMA model, which details the five elements that must be in place for us to experience lasting well-being.

Last time, we talked about Positive Emotion and gave tips as to how you can cultivate position emotions more regularly in your day-to-day working life. After all, a team will only exhibit positive behaviors when their leader does. As a leader, therefore, you must focus on creating positivity in your life through nurturing your own emotional intelligence and happiness.

Today, we’ll be discussing the second element in the PERMA model, which is: Engagement.

Imagine a workplace where team members are more engaged with tasks, projects, and situations, making for an environment that acts like a well-oiled machine, breaks productivity records, and leaves everyone feeling accomplished and fulfilled.

There are two ways to achieve such an environment, but first, let’s talk a little bit about exactly what engagement entails.

When did you last lose track of time because you became so lost in your work? Instead of counting down the minutes until the end of the work day, you were in ‘the zone’ and you concentrated so intensely on the project at hand that time flew by. This experience is called a ‘state of flow’.

Positive psychologist Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi wrote a book called “Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience” and in it, he discussed how we experience flow when 1) the challenge before us is significant and interesting, and 2) the challenge requires well-developed skills.

On the contrary, if team members don’t feel challenged, they’ll feel apathetic toward a project. And just as well, if they face a challenge they feel ill-equipped to handle, it will cause anxiety.

The key is to match projects to the appropriate team members based on their talents and skill sets to avoid boredom, resistance, stress, and worry.

Additionally, there are two more things you can do to further cultivate engagement in your workplace:

1) minimize distractions as much as possible


2) help your team members improve their concentration

Some ways to do this include the following:

  • Encourage team members to schedule specific email times throughout the day; you can even schedule a few 30-minute slots for important work-related exchanges. This way, team members aren’t constantly refreshing their inbox around the clock. When email programs are not in use, encourage your team to sign out of their servers and close the browser entirely so that they’re not tempted by distraction.
  • Additionally, you can use special software applications that block users from accessing certain websites for certain blocks of time. Your team might find this personally useful when they’re knocking away at big projects.
  • Encourage team members to silence their cell phones during high-peak hours (and ideally for the duration of the work day) so that incoming calls and texts don’t break their concentration.
  • Ensure that you and your team members are prioritizing your to-do lists. Delegate tasks as needed and concentrate on the most important and urgent projects first before worrying about anything else. This will help you to avoid overwhelm.
  • Make sure everyone on your team is taking care of their bodies! Staying hydrated helps our brain operate at peak performance as do energy-boosting foods like almonds, fresh fruits, and vegetables. It’s also important to refrain from remaining stationery throughout the day, as body movement improves focus.
  • Assess the work environment: is it inviting? Pictures, landscapes, and/or soothing colors can help reduce anxiety and provide your team with a calming workplace. Background music can also be effective, such as white noise, nature sounds, or soft instrumentals.
  • Encourage team members to take short breaks throughout the day. Dogged determination is admirable but it can also lead to burn out and a lack of focus, which means more mistakes can slip into a task. Instead, it’s important that team members step away from a project for 10-15 minutes on the hour—the brain will subconsciously work at the problem while they do.
  • Rewards and incentives! These can be great motivators to keep a team focused on crossing the finish line when used correctly but team members can also develop self-rewards of their own, even if it simply means getting a cup of coffee one they finish a section of a project. The sky’s the limit—the key is to nurture a reward the team member will enjoy working toward.

Next time, we’ll be discussing Positive Relationships and how meaningful connection between team members in the workplace is crucial to every individual’s well-being!

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