Search
  • Dr. Neal Nybo

3 ways busy managers promote positivity at work.




Introduction

Busy people can find it hard to prioritize positivity.


Admittedly, it is difficult to find studies about managers and positivity. But, we can look at studies about employee engagement, which is studied extensively and is related to positivity at work. According to SHRM, 58% of managers implement engagement policies occasionally, rarely, or never!


58% of managers implement engagement policies occasionally, rarely, or never!




Three challenges to promoting positivity

1. Managers can’t add another big thing to their priority list.

2. It isn’t obvious how to add positivity into work culture regularly.

3. Policies sound good in theory but aren’t second nature to all of us.


Three solutions that make promoting positivity natural, easy, and effective.

1. Make acts of kindness so small, anyone can do them.

2. Create simple micro-actions that fit any situation.

3. Provide enough options that everyone can find the two or three that work best for them.



Three challenges to promoting positivity


Really busy people who want to promote positivity face three challenges.


1. Managers can’t add another big thing to their priority list.

When was the last time it was three o’clock and you found yourself with nothing left to do for the day? It doesn’t happen. “Increased positivity” is rarely measured and managers are to stressed to add what isn’t counted. In fact, Gallup reports that "Managers report more stress and burnout, worse work-life balance, and worse physical wellbeing than the individual contributors on the teams they lead." Many of us what to contribute to the health of our company culture, but, If it is complicated, time intensive, or can’t be documented, it goes on a back burner or a file for slow days that never come.


2. It isn’t obvious how to add positivity into work culture regularly.

Think for a minute. If you did have time and energy, what could you do regularly to increase positivity? Can you think of three things? Five? Company culture is a complicated and nebulous “mix of your organization’s leadership, values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviors and attitudes that contribute to the emotional and relational environment of your workplace.” What makes this even harder is, “These factors are generally unspoken and unwritten rules that help to form bonds between your colleagues.” One good idea won’t fit every situation and finding multiple ways to raise positivity starts to feel like challenge one – one more big thing.


3. Policies sound good in theory but aren’t second nature to all of us.

Forgive me for sharing a personal weakness but, I’m not good at organizing little office parties. I love to attend them. I highly recommend them. I’ll eat whatever is served at them. But, I don’t plan them well. The same thing happens with company encouragement, engagement, and positivity strategies. They don’t always work for us. One size does not fit all. One author wisely said, “I am still imperfect, I still make bad decisions at times, and I still struggle with letting go. It’s called being human.” When a strategy doesn’t fit well with us, its very difficult for us to maintain it over time.


Three solutions that make promoting positivity natural, easy, and effective.

1. Make acts of kindness so small, anyone can do them.

According to the New York Times, "Micro-actions are actions so small, so easy...one small action, repeatedly, over long periods of time. It's the compounding effect of incremental change, and it's awesome."


2. Create simple micro-actions that fit any situation.

ABC News made the point, kindness doesn’t need to be complicated. I say the same about positivity. We demonstrate to people they matter when we genuinely care about them, value what they do, and show we are thinking about them. We can accomplish all this through simple micro-actions of kindness. The practice of kindness is so effective it’s being formally incorporated into some types of psychotherapy. It is equally effective in company environments. After all, people are people.


3. Provide enough options that everyone can find the two or three that work best for them.

Nicole Phillips from the NPR kindness podcast has been interviewing people across the country practicing acts of kindness. It’s a weekly podcast that she has been doing for a couple years and she hasn’t run out of guests. Granted, many of those are not micro-actions and most are not practical to a work environment. Repairing bicycles for inner city kids won’t fit the bill for micro-actions that develop positivity in the workplace.

Nicole and I worked together to develop 30 micro-actions of kindness specifically designed to increase workplace positivity.

Here is a list of micro-actions from the book. With all the groups we work with, everyone has been able to find a few of these that will work for them, in their setting, with their personality. Hopefully, you can as well. Then, I’ve included an excerpt from Workplace Positivity that gives you one complete micro-action with background from both of us and a worksheet we designed to work with teams.



Section 1 Reduce Negativity

Think About What You’re Thinking About

Find an Accountability Partner

Snap That Rubber Band

Change the Narrative


Section 2 Create an Exit Plan

Be Clear and Kind on the Phone

Excuse Yourself From the Gossip

Give Grace

Get Curious


Section 3 Connect With Heart

Start With Personal

Respect Their Time

Respect Their Space

Make Sure They Are the Point


Section 4 Praise Publicly

Say It in a Hallway

Tell Them in a Text

Make a Point in a Meeting

Elaborate in an Email


Section 5 Over Communicate

Write a Personal Note

Phone a Friend

Text a Holiday Greeting

Offer One Message to Multiple People

Section 6 Rewrite Internal Dialogue

Talk to Yourself to Train Your Thoughts

Pause and Catch Your Thoughts in the Act

Reject Thoughts That Don’t Serve You

Memorize a Mantra


Section 7 Upgrade Your World

Look For the Good

Expect People to Be Kind

Smile

Find the Silver Lining

Acknowledge Your Part of the Trifecta

Jump-Start Your Kindness


MICRO-ACTION TWENTY-TWO

Pause and Catch Your Thoughts in the Act

Thoughts are sneaky. There we are standing at the office copy machine waiting for

something to print when all of a sudden we find ourselves having an imaginary

conversation with our boss. If she asks me to do one more thing today… Why are

we stewing about something that hasn’t happened? Because our thoughts are being

allowed to run rampant.

Did you know you retrain your brain on a daily basis? True story. We form

pathways in the brain that lead us quickly back to our most used emotions. Dr.

Brad Bushman from Ohio State University has spent more than a decade looking

at anger pathways in the brain.16 When we demonstrate anger, it strengthens the

“expressway” in our minds, clearing a path so we can get there more quickly the next

time we need to feel anger.

This research proves how essential it is to think about what we’re thinking about.

We want to catch our thoughts in the act.

Spend time checking in with yourself. What am I thinking right now? Is it serving

me well or is it dragging me into a pit of anger or worry?

Once we can catch those thoughts that steal our peace, we can begin to reject

them.



COACH NEAL’S NOTES (In the book, we take turns writing chapters. The other one gives some professional reflection.)

Wondering if “thinking about thinking” is worth your time? Is such a soft skill

really necessary? According to one of the most successful corporate communication

consulting organizations, thinking about what you are thinking is not only important,

it’s the first, most important step in any challenging situation. Crucial Conversations

Training has been used by more than one million people and 300 of the Fortune 500

companies. The book by the same name has sold four million copies.

Crucial Conversations teaches a series of steps to take while talking to someone

when stakes are high, emotions are strong, and people disagree. The first step is “Start

with Heart.” The two most important elements for moving ahead in a challenging

time are 1) work on yourself first and 2) focus on what you really want. This world

class training program instructs participants on day one to think about what you are

thinking about by working on yourself first.




Along with every micro-action, we have created a worksheet to give you a jumpstart on your positivity. Here is the worksheet for Start With Kindness.



Now it’s your turn.

In the comments, tell me your #1 takeaway and how you plan to use it in your workplace?


Want more? Click here for a free excerpt from Workplace Positivity with three micro-actions.





For more about Workplace Positivity, go to Amazon.com

For more about the work I am doing, go to NealNybo.com




19 views0 comments