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30 May 2011

Nurturing Positive Feelings Dramatically Improves Employee Performance

This entry is part 1 of 11 in the series Placebo Management

Nurturing positive feelings inside employees improves their performance. I read two articles that support this.

One deals with the positive feelings from comments (Harvard Business Review, May 2011 edition). The other is about nurturing positive feelings from superstitions (Psychological Science). Both talk about research from Dr. Lysann Damisch of the University of Cologne.

Nurturing Positive Feelings Includes Confidence

Nurturing positive feelings can build stronger teams.

Nurturing positive feelings in employees is hard work because too often business cultures see such efforts as soft and weak leadership.

They reminded me of the commentary from the Top Gun DVD (Widescreen Special Collector’s Edition). A Top Gun instructor, who was a technical advisor for the movie, keyed in on the importance of pilots’ confidence. They need to feel invincible. Thus, the crisis of confidence that Tom Cruise’s character, Maverick, had after his partner’s death is very real and dangerous.

Many times though the workplace seems more concerned with telling employees what they are doing wrong rather than doing right. How successful can this be? It seems to go against nurturing positive feelings to enhance performance.

How much better would employees do if we took the Top Gun instructor’s advice? Research suggests, “They would certainly do much better.”

Why Nurturing Positives Feelings Can Be Hard To Do

Part of the problem is systemic. Managers who regularly point out employee errors come across as tougher than those who reinforce successes. Emotionally, people link toughness to criticism and gentleness to compliments.

As a result, it’s very hard for managers to show strength when complimenting. Moreover, in some managers, such complimenting can trigger undesirable feelings of being “soft.” This can be a fearsome personal event. It’s especially true in a organizational culture that has even a small bit of machismo in it.

However, what studies like this show is that the emotional state of employees is far more important than their mental state when it comes to performance. To tap these feelings it will take very secure managers and very self-aware cultures. Otherwise, managers who are successful in this will just come across as soft and weak.

Series NavigationPlacebo Management: Impacting Employees’ Beliefs >>

1 Response

  1. Pingback : 12 Most Effective Morale Builders That Don’t Cost a Cent | 12 Most

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