How are you and your team doing at work this week? Is it a week full of new growth, creation, and adventure? Or is everyone just doing the best they can to survive?
Either way, it might be time for a soil test.
Let me explain, as a trainer and coach it is my job to help people be more effective in their work to achieve better outcomes – now and in the past, companies have achieved this through training to make sure the right people are in the right jobs with the right skills to succeed. There’s an abundance of human resource ‘worker bees’, external trainers, and others doing a fabulous job and achieving results. And if you’re like me, you never ever give up until that result is achieved, exhausted or not. And to an extent, it is working but this week I got a slap in the face. I realised there is something fundamentally missing in the approach – we are not testing the soil!
Testing the soil flows from the principal of Positive Psychology. Now, before you run away and call me a hippie, hear me out. The bottom line is there are certain emotions that tend to help us ‘open up’ – to be more creative, productive and imaginative, more focused and inspired, better at problem-solving and communicating. Then, there are emotions that tend to make us ‘shut down’.
Research shows it’s the emotions we tend to label as “negative” that close us down. Think back to the days of the cavemen – it was smart to retreat to the cave when you felt fear or pain! However, the huge range of emotions we label as ‘positive’ is far more reaching.
What’s interesting for me, as a trainer and coach, is these emotions go beyond happiness, they have different opening effects on us, inspiring us to take action in a certain way that is also widely predictable.
Below are a list of emotions and their corresponding ‘action urges’:
- JOY inspires playfulness.
- INTEREST inspires exploration.
- HOPE inspires us to yearn for positive change.
- PRIDE helps us to dream big.
- AMUSEMENT helps us bond over shared laughter and leads to new insights.
- INSPIRATION makes us aspire to excellence.
So, what does this have to do with a soil test? Think of like this, the soil in your office represents the emotional environment – it’s either providing rich nourishment so you and your team can feel these emotions and experience this ‘action urges’ regularly. Or it’s slowly becoming dry and draining the life out of you.
Looking at it closer, who wouldn’t want to work with a team who are playfully exploring, aspiring to excellence and maintaining hope for positive change, even when things are tough? Who could possibly say it’s a bad thing to help a team dream big, share great bonds and enjoy new insights?! I don’t know about you, but I would love to work in an environment where these are the things regularly experienced!
Now over to you, what does your soil feel like?
Are you creating an environment where your words, your actions and the example you set as a leader, inspires these kinds of feelings? Or is the soil dry and dusty from neglect and lack of rain?
If so, I’d like you to try something today, let the research speak for itself. When presenting a problem to your team that needs resolution, find a way to have a laugh about it – remember: laughter leads to shared insights! Present it as an interesting puzzle and encourage everyone to have a chat about how to solve it – interest leads to exploration!
Take a problem-solving walk instead of a sit-down meeting, and get the blood and oxygen pumping as you stride around the block at lunch, or throw it open for discussion with a whiteboard, some bright markers and a ‘take no prisoners’ attitude! Remind your team that you believe in their ability to get creative and problem solve efficiently. Inspire everyone to their best performance through your own approach and pro-active nature – inspiration leads us to aspire to excellence!
Now stand back. And watch them GROW.
Thanks to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson and her “Broaden and Build” Theory for inspiring this message.
Catherine Bell helps people discover their hidden talents and find more meaning, engagement, and fulfilment in their work. Applying the proven research and practice of Applied Positive Psychology and Lean Six Sigma Continuous Improvement, she helps leaders and teams in small and large businesses who are looking for new ways to drive success, engagement, and profit.
Catherine is a passionate businesswoman, a down-to-earth optimist, a no-nonsense trainer and transformational coach. She is also a closet psychology geek who loves reading the latest research about what makes people tick! More than anything, Catherine is a true believer in people – and their often unrealised potential.
Through Consulting Services, In-house, Public and Online Training and Coaching Programs, Bell Training Group ignite excellence in teams and strengthens businesses.