The biggest strategic advantage you have as a leader is how positive your team is — how optimistic your workplace is. When people like coming
to work, understand they have a vital role in the purpose of the team and organization, respect and appreciate the people around them, they thrive. Thriving teams are high producing teams. High producing teams stay intact longer and are more efficient and can bounce back from disappointment faster; bottom line — thriving teams make s#%t happen.
In The Optimistic Workplace Shawn Murphy has written an apologetically optimistic and incredibly practical guide for leaders at all levels to make our workplaces more productive, more fulfilling and more meaningful. Shawn recognizes that we don’t leave our souls at the door when we enter the office, turn on our computers or respond to emails on our smartphones, and provides an easy to follow step-by-step guide to creating more human organizations of all sizes where people can thrive.
The Power of Optimism
I fully subscribe to Shawn’s thesis and mission. My book came out of our work at Double Forte to fully embrace our younger colleagues – I’m a positive person and I couldn’t bear being frustrated with the Millennials in our office and at our clients just because I didn’t understand them. After reading so many negative articles and blog posts and Tweets and comments about millennials in the workplace, I rejected it all and started from scratch to build from the bottom up a positive work environment. When I give workshops and speeches on the topic one of the first questions that comes up is something along the lines of “by catering to Millennials aren’t you lowering your standards?” My answer: absolutely not, you are raising your standards; you are declaring that everyone matters and together we can achieve great things.
My primary job is to facilitate greatness. And the optimistic workplace demands high expectations and standards. As Shawn details in the stories he shares from different companies around the country, creating workplace climates – optimistic climates — where people thrive and feel fulfilled is the new strategic advantage paradigm…and it’s not that hard.
Work Climate Vs. Work Culture
A workplace climate is not the same as the office culture. The climate is the feeling in the air, between the emails, the tone of conversations, the words you choose and the feelings you share among colleagues. As Shawn explains, “from a leadership perspective, climate is easier to influence than culture and is useful in creating lasting change necessary for the organization to create value.” It’s the positive tone we should all set – regardless of what others around us do. Bottom line “we need more leaders” at all levels of an organization “who are willing to choose to set a positive tone for their teams” regardless of what anyone else in the organization is doing — because optimism and positive tone attract greatness and propel an organization forward faster and more easily.
And for you doubters in the crowd, workplace optimism isn’t “touchy-feely organizational theory that ignores the need for profitability or the downsides of work life.” As I’ve written about too, it’s built on research that demonstrates that appreciated, thriving teams outperform teams in a negative climate by “10 to 30 percent” and that you “can transform the work experience by focusing on the best positive potential realities.”
Express Joy At Work
Another of Shawn’s points that really resonated with me is the importance of showing joy – happiness – in the workplace. As Shawn points out “(W)hen people feel that the work environment is safe, optimistic, and yes, joyful, they are more likely to contribute their best.”
And nothing could be simpler than expressing joy. It’s the “please” and “thank you” throughout the day, it’s the great big smile when you see great work, it’s the laugh out loud when something strikes you as funny. Expressing joy is the public recognition and thanks for a job well done and the celebration for reaching important milestones. Expressing joy translates into people feeling appreciated for their work and time. And when people feel appreciated, they thrive, and when they thrive they achieve.
I could go on.
Read Shawn’s book. I think you will be as inspired as I am to create the optimistic workplace where people and business thrives.