Truth be told: The (almost…) sole purpose of this post is to share this really awesome photo with you.
It was taken by photographer Benedikt Weiss during my opening keynote on Positive Psychology at the HR Inside Summit 2016 in Vienna three weeks ago. The keynote took place in the beautiful and most stunning Hofburg Palace and was, at the same time, one of the largest crowds I´ve spoken to so far.
The setting was somewhat of a challenge. As you can see, the lights on stage were really bright, whereas the audience was pretty dark. Additionally, there was this gap of at least 25 feet between the first row of people and me – which basically meant I couldn’t discern a single face in the crowd. This was somewhat discomforting since – as most speakers do – I tend to frequently scan the crowd for friendly-looking faces, people who nod, or smile at me. Not a chance in this case – but I guess I did a good job anyway.
Still, if you´re presenting to larger crowds, I´d love to hear your speaking hacks on how to get ongoing feedback from the audience when you basically cannot see anyone…
A couple of days ago, I wrote about the concept of relational energy, the idea that energy is generated via positive interactions between an organization´s members – resulting in a fully charged system.
Today, I´d like to introduce two other approaches that aim at assessing organizational energy. In both, St. Gallen-based (Switzerland) Prof. Heike Bruch plays a major role.
In an article Bruch co-authored with Sumantra Ghoshal in the Sloan Management Review from 2003 based on several case-studies, she introduced the idea that an organization as a whole system can be described via a grid that describes the intensity and the quality of the present energy. In doing so, she also promoted the concept of “organizational burnout”, a state that may arise when an organization spends to much time in the upper left quadrant of the energy grid. I highly recommend reading the original article – as it also provides valuable ideas on how to shift an organization from one energetic state to an another (“Slaying the Dragon” and “Winning the Princess”)
In 2011, she followed up with this article: Energy at work: A measurement validation and linkage to unit effectiveness. This further explores the idea of “whole system energy” but tackles it from a more quantified point of view. The authors define
collective energy (henceforth productive energy) as affect, cognitive arousal, and agentic behavior among unit members in their joint pursuit of organizationally salient objectives.
One important notion is that the researchers view productive energy as having affective, cognitive, and behavioral components – so it´s not only about “feeling energized”:
Affective energy refers to members’ shared experience of positive feelings and emotional arousal due to their enthusiastic assessments of work‐related issues.
Cognitive energy refers to the shared intellectual processes that propel members to think constructively and persist in search of solutions to work‐related problems, including the mental faculties to focus attention, shut out distractions, and have a desire to make “good things” happen.
Behavioral energy reflects members’ joint efforts designed to benefit the organization; it encompasses the pace, intensity, and volume with which members purposefully invest physical resources.
The other important distinction is the facet of emergence:
We take a multilevel position on energy, conceptualizing it as both an individual‐level and a collective‐level phenomenon. We, therefore, recognize the need to discuss the nature of its emergence or how the lower‐level parent construct (i.e., individual‐level energy) materializes to form a collective construct (i.e., productive energy).
Accordingly, the authored have used a questionnaire to assess individual energy, but used that data to additionally compute a collective energy level, e.g., that of the whole business unit, by aggregating the individual energy levels. Here are some of the items they used:
- Affective dimension: People in my work group feel enthusiastic in their job.
Cognitive dimension: In my work group, there is a collective desire to make something happen.
Behavioral dimension: People in my work group often work extremely long hours without complaining.
After statistical analyses, the authors conclude that
productive energy appears to be an emergent phenomenon. That is, energy referenced at the unit level considers the context or social environment in which individuals work and is distinct from the attributes of those individuals.
In a separate study, they also find that
the productive energy of firms is positively associated with firm performance.
I´m really eager to see how this stream of literature will develop in the future – and how it might inform practical interventions, e.g., in the field of human resources development.
I was in the ninth cohort (2013/14) of the Master of Applied Positive Program at Penn – and the program is going strong. Consequently, there are tons of brilliant MAPP Alumni out there who have fascinating stories to tell: About their experience with the program, about Positive Psychology in general – and about themselves of course. I really want to hear those stories. That´s why I started Mappsterviews.
Please introduce yourself briefly:
I am an introvert masquerading as an extrovert who still gets deathly shy meeting new people. Luckily this all dissipates when speaking to large groups (the bigger the better!). I have spent the past five years working in Silicon Valley and seeing my uber active boys, age 7 and 4, grow up way too fast.
What did you do before joining the MAPP program at Penn?
I started my career in consulting, first as an external consultant and then moving in-house. I dabbled in different kinds of consulting, from management to organizational development, to change management and human capital. After about seven years, I made the move to inside a company, and really enjoyed it. Besides the reduced travel load, I was able to build deeper, more meaningful relationships with employees. I also loved the awesome employee discount perks (Nike and Victoria Secret were my favorites!) After three years at a software company I am grateful to back at a product company building cool tech gizmos that I can procure with the coveted an employee discount. 🙂
What got you interested in Positive Psychology in the first place?
I was actually an unconscious, quasi-competent practitioner for a few years without even knowing it! I was delivering these two-day culture shaping workshops that applied many concepts of positive psychology in powerful experiential learning exercises – gratitude, positive emotions, strengths-based perspectives, etc. I became so passionate about the content and delivery that I began to read more about the work. I serendipitously stumbled on the MAPP website in 2007. I was pregnant with my first child at the time and thought I would never be able to squeeze the program into life. In 2013, six years later, I finally made it happen!
You now work for Logitech. What´s your role there?
I lead the Global Talent Development function. I joined a little over a year ago, and started development at the company – they didn’t have anything for employees. It has been awesome to create and build from scratch. The foundation has very much been inspired by the MAPP program. I have had the most amazing sand box to test, learn, and apply what I learned. The company is just over 2,500 employees globally, so you are able to see and feel the systemic change. That has been the most rewarding part of my job – to work at scale and see the impact.
Very recently, your company was awarded with the grand prize at Ross School´s Positive Business Project competition. What´s your project about?
I think of the project like my MAPP capstone – it was nine months worth of work that came together in a variety of mutually reinforcing initiatives. I knew if I was going to imbue positive practices into the organization I would need to pull many levers, and do them simultaneously. I created a two-day workshop that provides all employees an entrée into positive psychology. Participants experience vulnerability and connection, create a team purpose statement, and uncover their character strengths, to name a few. This is what we called our signature Logitech program. In one year, we had nearly 800 employees around the globe go through it – all by word of mouth.
I believe investments like that – in the whole person – will never backfire. It breeds a kind of loyalty that no cafeteria and ping pong table can ever deliver.
This intensive experience was complimented with 90-minute positive deviant workshops that we ran globally. We also rolled out job crafting to the entire organization. Together, employees got hit with tools and techniques that began to build different ways of thinking about themselves and their jobs. They began to reflect on themselves as people – not just employees. I believe investments like that – in the whole person – will never backfire. It breeds a kind of loyalty that no cafeteria and ping pong table can ever deliver.
What are the future plans for your initiative?
We want to build more relevant touch points with our employees. Our first phase was broad and now we are trying to go deep. We are working on producing more custom experiences for different employee segments that can meet them where they are and then take them to where they want to be. We have some cool new tools we are piloting to make that happen; tools that will give every employee one-one-one support and encouragement so they can truly flourish. This story is being written now, so stay tuned!
Given that you’ve successfully implemented Positive Psychology practices at your workplace: What´s the most important piece of advice for HR colleagues who´d like to do the same?
Oh wow – I feel so humbled by this question. I am the one who is always needing the advice! I think, in general, I have to reveal a dirty little secret. I have found some Positive Psychology words can really turn people off – to say you are taking a strengths-based approach, can make some, sadly, immediately shut down. I actually shy away from using a lot of the positive psychology language (this feels like a shame, as I do believe that words create our worlds, à la David Cooperrider!).
I try to describe what I want to do in language that I know matters to the organization. What do they want to see happen? Even if I don’t agree, I know it’s what they need to hear to support my cause. I then craft experiences that have an equal amount of pathos and logos. The employees and leaders the experience and embody it. They begin to talk about gratitude, strengths, connection, autonomy, and purpose – not me. I think there always needs to be a sense of co-creation despite knowing our larger agendas. Sometimes my ego wants to “prove” that my way is the more “enlightened” way. I step back and remember that what’s important is that I am not proving myself, but rather improving my craft.
Positive Psychology has a lot to offer for leaders, especially those people taking on a leadership role in human resources and people management. In this post, I´ve gathered 22 research articles infused by Positive Psychology (more specifically: Positive Organizational Scholarship) that, in my opinion, have tremendous value for aspiring as well as established managers and entrepreneurs.
The topics comprise desirable attributes and personality variables such as grit, character strengths, and core self-evaluations, how to create positive relationships at work, how employee motivation is created and sustained, how to find meaning and purpose in work, and several review articles, e.g., on the connection of positive emotions and job performance. Enjoy!
- Bono, J. E., & Judge, T. A. (2003). Self-concordance at work: Toward understanding the motivational effects of transformational leaders. Academy of Management Journal, 46(5), 554-571.
- Cameron, K., Mora, C., Leutscher, T., & Calarco, M. (2011). Effects of positive practices on organizational effectiveness. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 47(3), 266-308.
- Csikszentmihalyi, M., & LeFevre, J. (1989). Optimal experience in work and leisure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56(5), 815-822.
Deci, E. L., Koestner, R., & Ryan, R. M. (1999). A meta-analytic review of experiments examining the effects of extrinsic rewards on intrinsic motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 125(6), 627-668.
Donaldson, S. I., & Ko, I. (2010). Positive organizational psychology, behavior, and scholarship: A review of the emerging literature and evidence base. Journal of Positive Psychology, 5(3), 177-191.
Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 92(6), 1087-1101.
Edmans, A. (2011). Does the stock market fully value intangibles? Employee satisfaction and equity prices. Journal of Financial Economics, 101(3), 621-640.
Fisher, C. D. (2010). Happiness at work. International Journal of Management Reviews, 12(4), 384-412.
- Gable, S. L., Reis, H. T., Impett, E. A., & Asher, E. R. (2004). What do you do when things go right? The intrapersonal and interpersonal benefits of sharing positive events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87(2), 228-245.
Grant, A. M., Curtayne, L., & Burton, G. (2009). Executive coaching enhances goal attainment, resilience and workplace well-being: A randomised controlled study. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(5), 396-407.
Grant, A. M., Campbell, E. M., Chen, G., Cottone, K., Lapedis, D., & Lee, K. (2007). Impact and the art of motivation maintenance: The effects of contact with beneficiaries on persistence behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 103(1), 53-67.
Heaphy, E. D., & Dutton, J. E. (2008). Positive social interactions and the human body at work: Linking organizations and physiology. Academy of Management Review, 33(1), 137-162.
Judge, T. A., & Bono, J. E. (2001). Relationship of core self-evaluations traits—self-esteem, generalized self-efficacy, locus of control, and emotional stability—with job satisfaction and job performance: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86(1), 80-92.
Luthans, F., Avey, J. B., Avolio, B. J., & Peterson, S. J. (2010). The development and resulting performance impact of positive psychological capital. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 21(1), 41-67.
Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The benefits of frequent positive affect: does happiness lead to success?. Psychological Bulletin, 131(6), 803-855.
- Meyers, M. C., van Woerkom, M., & Bakker, A. B. (2013). The added value of the positive: A literature review of positive psychology interventions in organizations. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 22(5), 618-632.
Peterson, C., & Park, N. (2006). Character strengths in organizations. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 27(8), 1149-1154.
Rosso, B. D., Dekas, K. H., & Wrzesniewski, A. (2010). On the meaning of work: A theoretical integration and review. Research in Organizational Behavior, 30, 91-127.
Sheldon, K. M., & Elliot, A. J. (1999). Goal striving, need satisfaction, and longitudinal well-being: the self-concordance model. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 76(3), 482-497.
Spreitzer, G., Sutcliffe, K., Dutton, J., Sonenshein, S., & Grant, A. M. (2005). A socially embedded model of thriving at work. Organization Science, 16(5), 537-549.
Wright, T. A., & Cropanzano, R. (2000). Psychological well-being and job satisfaction as predictors of job performance. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 5(1), 84-94.
Wrzesniewski, A., & Dutton, J. E. (2001). Crafting a job: Revisioning employees as active crafters of their work. Academy of Management Review, 26(2), 179-201.
This is my 300. post since I’ve started Mappalicious about two years ago. Giving myself a slight pat on the back right now…
As Positive Psychology has been entering mainstream media outlets over the past years, there have been people advocating for the implementation of ”Chief Happiness Officer” (CHO) role (sometimes also: Chief Wellbeing Officer) in organizations, typically as part of the wider HR/People Operations department. And while I fully endorse the idea in general (as there is a very distinct connection between employee happiness/wellbeing and organizational success, please see this article for an overview) I get really frustrated when reading what this role supposedly is all about. Here´s a selection of what I´ve read in several news outlets and blogs over the past weeks:
- ordering pizza, ice-cream, massages and the like;
- organizing office parties;
- organizing trainings;
- helping with relocation;
- helping to individualize workplace furniture and design;
Excuse me – but are you f…..g kidding me? This is the description of a team or human resources assistant. We don´t need a CHO to achieve these things…
The Chief Happiness Officer is not the Pizza Guy!
A CHO that really deserves the C in her title would be a strategic role out and out, someone who reports directly to an organization´s CHRO or even CEO, as employee wellbeing has been shown to impact the bottom line in a pretty direct way. A CHO, the way I see it, should have a least 10 to 15 years of experience in different HR functions (e.g., leadership instruments, employer branding, payroll etc.) and should also have gained some experience in more operational roles to know about the “pain points” of the employees she´s responsible for. She would have (at least) a master´s degree in a field like organizational/occupational/positive psychology, or even an MBA with a specialization in one of those areas – and several years of experience in a leadership role. Increasingly, expertise in predictive data modelling could also be helpful, but I guess this could be delegated to a specialist. The role should be responsible for or at least significantly involved in the following processes and functions:
- strategy and mission development;
- leadership culture, development and instruments;
- training initiatives, especially on leadership;
- development of career tracks and work-time models,
- performance management including compensation & benefits;
- employee surveys, predictive analytics and other (big) data initiatives;
- employer branding, recruiting, and retention management;
- corporate health initiatives;
- workplace design;
- internal communications.
Only, if the CHO role is able to significantly influence all these tasks and processes in a concerted approach and is part of (or has regular access to) the company´s top management, it would be possible to leverage the valuable insights that Positive Psychology and especially Positive Organizational Scholarship (POS) have generated over the last 20 years. Image Source
A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to give a dinner speech at a private equity convention that was hosted by Handelsblatt, one of the most eminent (business) newspapers in Germany. I was a little surprised since – to be honest – I don’t know sh.t about private equity, mergers & acquisitions, etc.
Subsequent to my talk, I was invited to put into writing what I said that evening. The result is a feature that spans topics such as burnout, employee engagement, managing organizational energy, and the theory of the Kondratieff waves. My tagline was:
Extraordinary returns will be realized where ordinary people are empowered to achieve extraordinary results.
An English version of the piece is available available here. Enjoy!