I read recently an article which questioned the reason to be positive, to have hope and to be optimistic. I think there are many reasons why being positive works.
As we are living in challenging times for employees and companies and very often people are stressed out and look towards HR for advice and inspiration. This can be difficult however research has shown that there are answers. Fred Luthans (2009) has defined Psychological Capital which gives a positive approach to developing staff members, managers and human resources in today’s workplace.
Psychological capital includes Hope, Resilience, Optimism and Self-Efficacy all attributes which are extremely important in the current economic climate. We can all use a little hope, resilience, optimism and self efficiency to keep going in these difficult times.
Psychological Capital has been defined as an individual’s positive psychological state of development and is characterized by (1) having confidence (self- efficacy) to take on and put in the necessary effort to succeed at challenging tasks; (2) making a positive attribution (optimism) about succeeding now and in the future; (3) persevering toward goals and, when necessary, redirecting paths to goals (hope) in order to succeed; and (4) when beset by problems and adversity, sustaining and bouncing back and even beyond (resilience) to attain success.
Positive organisational behaviour is the study and application of positively orientated human resources strengths and psychological capacities that can be measured, developed, and effectively managed for performance improvements.
Managers who wish to enhance the performance of their direct employees will derive some benefit from exhibiting the attributes of hope, resilience, optimism and self-efficacy as managers serve as role models for their employees. If managers persist towards goal accomplishment and do not let setbacks deter them, employees will be more likely to follow suit. In addition when adversity strikes or uncertainty surrounds managers, how they cope will be observed and perhaps mimicked by employees. In short managers are always on stage and followers are watching and taking cues about how to handle situations, what is valued, expected and rewarded. Managers who become more aware of how their psychological capital and level of positivity in general influences their employees and subsequent behaviour will be more likely to see positive performance outcomes.
Psychological Capital can be developed through short training interventions, which last one to three hours. These include activities designed to enhance the components of efficacy, optimism, hope and resilience. For example in the hope component of a training module participants begin by delineating key goals they will use throughout the session. The facilitator then explains the need for a concrete end point to measure success, a framework that allows participants to work towards goal accomplishment as opposed to away from desired goals by using a ‘stepping’ method of identifying sub-goals as a way to reap the benefits of even modest achievements. The participants are instructed to generate multiple proactive pathways to the goal and reflect on and discuss the realistic options identified. On completion of this training intervention participants have taken ownership of a personally valuable and challenging goal and are prepared for obstacles and are ready to implement multiple contingency plans to attain their goals.
Psychological Capital training interventions will help build resilience by having participants identify recent personal and organisational setbacks within their work domain and employees have learned new tools to deal with setbacks and create a plan to handle these.
Setting a positive agenda for survival is important in these challenging times. The lessons we can learn from Psychological Capital is that management can create and build a positive environment in their organisation. It is essential that HR takes the lead in this. Creating Hope, Resilience, Optimism and Self-Efficacy in any organisation is of benefit for all involved. We saw that management is a role model for all employees and that they are closely watched by employees. If management is a role model than human resources are the real leaders in this and it is essential that they show Hope, Resilience, Optimism and Self-Efficacy on a daily basis. Pessimistic managers are the death knell for any organisation as they give no direction and suck up energy.
More than ever this is a time for positive managers who can create a positive environment and challenge the rest of the organisation to improve, be positive and creative.