Kim Cameron’s book Positive Leadership focuses on explaining strategies for supervisors to achieve extraordinary effectiveness, spectacular results and positively deviant performances from employees. It offers many good ways to encourage fellow employees positively to gain maximum results. These strategies are built on the concept of positive. What is the description of positive then? It is hard to create on work environment if we don`t know, what positivity actually is. Concept of positive itself has at least three connotations,
- A focus on positively deviant performance or successful performance.
- An orientation towards employees, for example strengths over weaknesses, optimism over pessimism and support over criticism.
- A focus on virtuousness and eudaemonism.
Through these three main points, we now know the description of what positivity really is. How are we able to bring these to work environment? The overall goal of positive leadership is to create positive, motivated and hardworking atmosphere at work, and it has many parts in the creation project. Let`s see what those are. We are going to use an employee called Melissa as an example and think how she feels in different situations.
Positive relationships are important part of nice workplace environment. Creation of positive environment just goes through relationships. How can I make a good working relationship between myself and Melissa? Let’s take an example here. Creating a good working relationship with her bases itself on trust. I have to show, that I trust Melissa to do her work. I can`t be spying behind Melissa`s back and guard her, instead I’m allowing her to deliver her own performance. After the performance we have the communication part where we can go through the performance together, and discuss about it constructively, while I’m listening to Melissa’s own opinions about it as well as giving my own. As a supervisor I can also ask her feedback about my work as a supervisor and take notes about it. Going this route with every employee I also gain their trust as a leader and the relationships between myself and the employees are good.
To add on trust, other important thing in building a good working relationship is acknowledging employer’s strengths and building the work tasks for those strengths. Melissa’s strength is for example excel coding, then you give Melissa a task, in which she can use her strength. It motivates employees to do what they are good at, so as a supervisor it is my job to find suitable tasks for them. It is more effective for the company and it does make the employees like you more, leading to a good relationship. Obviously, these relationships need effort to keep them up, but it is an effort that deserves to be done for the sake of positive climate at the workplace.
Positive communication is one of the bases in positive climate in organization. To enable positive communication in organization, you need to use supportive strategies towards employees especially when criticism or corrective messages have to be delivered. The communication pattern of a leader is a powerful factor in enabling positively deviant performance effect to emerge. The key in positive communication is the ratio between positive and negative feedbacks, there should be at least two positive things opposing one negative. That way we attempt to always outweigh the negatives with positives, leading to Melissa and other employees feeling better about their performance.
Other useful strategy in positive communication is sparking thoughtful process about employer’s own performance. If I ask Melissa what she think went well or went wrong and I let her answer it, it does make her think a lot more about her performance than me telling what went wrong or well straight away. After her answer I can offer my point of view, and together we can gather the end review using both of our point of views. This way always develops the most wholesome result and both sides in the conversation feel like they have been heard, which is the definition of good communication.
Obviously both of the methods I described above need right tone of speaking. Right tone isn’t judging, it is more kind and encouraging and the volume isn’t raised. By just speaking calmly and kindly, the effect in employee can be seen and communication stays positive.
To gain good motivation to work, Melissa needs to know that her work means something. Bringing that meaning is my job as a supervisor. I need to be able to show, that Melissa’s work means something to this company. Supervisors who enable meaningfulness in workplace and emphasize it can get massively bigger investment in work from the employees. Feeling of knowing the meaning of own work investment can encourage positively deviant performance in Melissa, leading to even better results. As a way to motivate employees, telling the positive meaning to an employer about their work is definitely one of the best ones.
Creating positive climate is especially amenable by the approach taken by the leader. Positive relationships, positive communication and positive meaning together produce positive workplace climate. As a supervisor, my impact to the climate at workplace is bigger than as an employee. That is why I need to bring positive emotion and positive point of view to a room each time I enter it. Things that are needed to create positive atmosphere are for example the use of constructive criticism, focusing on successes rather than failures, and most importantly allowing positively deviant performances and some freedom of self-expression from the employees. Supervisors who enable positive defiance and deviant work performances and resist the tendency on concentrating to the negatives or threatening, can develop themselves as a supervisor through employee’s knowledge and at the same time the employee develops him/herself in work performance. This format of emphasizing positive attempts and opportunities instead of judging them creates positive relationship between the supervisor and employees, leading to better climate at the workplace. As a leader, I need to be able to understand workplace relationships, communication and meaning. Through that understanding I would be able to create one as a supervisor in company.