Power = (Work x Wellbeing) / Time

I’ve spent the last two days at the University of Trier in Southern Germany. The university hosted the very first conference of the “German Association for Research in Positive Psychology” (DGPPF in German). I’m so excited about the fact the Positive Psychology is finally picking up momentum in my country.

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend all the workshops and lectures as I had a lot of work to do on the side. As I’m not a researcher myself, I contributed by hosting a workshop on marketing research(ers) to the press and via blogging.

The one takeaway that inspired me the most was the closing slide of a lecture given by Prof. Dr. Michaela Brohm who also happens to be the founding president of the newborn Positive Psychology association. She proposed we need a new formulation for “good work” by drawing upon a well-known formula from physics – where power (or output) is defined as the amount of work / time. Brohm referred to this as “cold work”.

She proposed to add another variable to the equation: Wellbeing. While work that is detrimental to psychological health might still lead to results in the common sense, it’s just not “good work”. Accordingly, the new formula goes as follows:

Power = (Work x Wellbeing) / Time

Prof. Dr. Michaela Brohm - DGPPFI love the notion that work and wellbeing are linked via a multiplicative function – because this implies that work which does not foster the (psychological) wellbeing of the worker potentially devalues the whole outcome of the process – whereas work that also builds wellbeing drastically increases the value of the investment. Brohm called this “warm work”.

I firmly believe we need this kind of catchy simplification because a prompt like that helps us to remember the core messages long after a talk or lecture.

Well done!

7 Research Articles linking Happiness and Subjective Wellbeing to Performance and Success Measures

One of the most stunning ideas from the field of Positive Psychology is that happiness (and other forms of positive affect) are not only a consequence, but also a prerequisite for success and performance in organizations. Yet, to be honest, the empirical evidence is still very scarce. Especially the link between employee happiness and performance on the organizational level is still uncharted territory to a great extent. Yet, some things are out there – here´s a little compilation for you.

  1. The benefits of frequent positive affect: does happiness lead to success
  2. Happiness at work
  3. The moderating role of employee positive well being on the relation between job satisfaction and job performance
  4. Psychological well-being and job satisfaction as predictors of job performance
  5. The Happy-Productive Worker Thesis Revisited
  6. On the role of positive and negative affectivity in job performance: A meta-analytic investigation
  7. Well-being and organizational performance: An organizational-level test of the happy-productive worker hypothesis


“You´re doing just fine.” On the Power of Trust and day-to-day Positive Feedback

Blind SymbolAs I´ve already told you in this post on the significance of empathy, one guest lecturer at MAPP 13/14 onsite has been Jane Dutton who is known best for her research and teaching on high-quality connections (at work).

Jane stopped her lecture once in a while to lead us through some practical exercises on that topic. On one occasion, half of the group was blindfolded and then led through the hallways of Penn´s Huntsman Hall by the other people for several minutes. Now, I´ve done this sort of thing a couple of times before in coaching seminars – but I´ve never had such a powerful realization as I had this time:

I was feeling pretty save and comfortable in the beginning. My partner guided me with her hands and simple verbal cues, telling me to go left and right whenever needed. At one point, we were walking straight along a stretched-out hallway.* All I had to do was walk straight-on – so my partner stopped giving verbal feedback.

Somewhere half-way down that hallway, there was an ever so small bump in the floor, I guess a spot where a cable lay beneath it. But it was enough to catch me off-guard and lessen my trust considerably. Upon understanding that, my partner started to behave very differently. Instead od telling me only about necessary changes, she started to give me constant feedback, mostly along the lines of:

You´re doing just fine. The way is free. Just keep on going!

What a tremendous change that was! A genuine difference that makes a difference! And a powerful metaphor for everyday (business) life…

Because, on a closer look, we´re running around blindfolded all the time. We hear, see, and know so little compared to the sheer endless amount of information that is out there and could be of value for us. What a difference it makes to just hear “You´re on the right track” from somebody who just happens to know a little bit more than you do.

So if you´re a boss, a parent, or just somebody who happens to care about other people: How about telling them that they´re doing fine at least once every day? Not because they did something special. Just because they need and deserve it…


*I still wonder what all those suited-up Wharton MBAs thought of our crazy group of people playing children´s games in their sacred halls…