In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Sean Achor outlines positive psychological principles and tactics that increase performance at work. More specifically, positive psychology can be used to improve the effectiveness and output of employees. If you're looking to boost employee productivity, and your business’ profitability, see if these five psychological hacks don’t do the trick.
1. Discover the link between happiness and performance
Did you know that students who were told to think about the happiest day of their lives scored higher on a standardized math test than their peers? Or that more effective business negotiators test higher for positive emotions than their peers?
There is actually a mountain of research supporting the idea that higher performance is associated with positive emotions. What does that mean for you?
If you want your employees to perform better, give them something to smile about. Remind them of a positive event. Pay them a compliment. Or simply do like the professor did and ask them to remember something that makes them smile.
2. Applaud early failure
Ever notice how history repeats itself?
It's easy to shake our heads when people repeat the mistakes others have made, or make the mistakes their managers have warned them about, but there's a simple reason for that. Of course, we often learn from mistakes others have made, but we also learn from our own past experiences. Often, failure has to be experienced rather than read about or explained. We can only learn how to deal with failure—and all of the emotions and struggles that come with it—by experiencing it.
In fact, employees who learn to deal with failure early on are better equipped to solve problems and are more effective down the line.
In other words, it's a good idea to let employees fail and figure out solutions on their own...especially in the beginning. Sometimes experiencing the process is the only way we really learn the solution.
3. Revise patterns
There is a well-known psychological principle called Expectancy Theory which says that our brains make choices because of the outcomes we associate with specific actions. In other words, we choose the action that we think will result in the best outcome.
This is easy enough to understand, but what we often forget is that it has also been proven that our brains fall into patterns.
As creatures of habit, it's easy for our minds to play tricks on us. If we think an outcome is good and we choose it over and over again, we will continue to choose it, even if it's not the best choice anymore. The business world is ever-changing. Habits that were beneficial during startup may not be right for a mature business.
Take some time to think about the habits and processes in your business. What choices are you still making that you haven't thought about in awhile?
4. Remind employees that positive outcomes are possible
Positive psychology research shows that job performance is improved simply by believing that positive change is possible. In other words, if you're looking to turn your company around, then share stories of successful business turnarounds. If you're hoping to take your superstar performer to the next level, then share stories of how top athletes get even better.
Determine the goal that you are trying to achieve in your business and then show your employees that achieving that goal is possible.
The psychological result is that people begin to believe that they can make change. If we believe that it is possible for us to do something, then it is much more likely that we will do it.
5. Keep positive experience journals
One positive psychology study found that people who took 20 minutes to write down positive experiences from that day and did this three times per week not only displayed higher levels of happiness, but also displayed fewer symptoms of illness. In other words, more thoughtful, more positive employees were also healthier employees.
It doesn't matter the situation, the circumstance, or the timing, everyone has something to be positive or thankful about.
Don't forget to remind your employees to focus on the positive in their lives. Your bottom line with thank you later.
James Clear is the founder of Passive Panda. He is an award-winning writer on business strategy and entrepreneurship and has delivered speeches in the United States, the UK, and Switzerland.