July  09,  2019

My personal performance and creativity soar when I am happy and surrounded by supportive and genuine people. The quality of my work is even higher when I am in a supportive environment. I can feel it, but can my company’s bottom line? Does positivity have business benefits? Shawn Achor says it does.

In his book, Big Potential, Achor says there are many benefits beyond the personal. Being in a positive environment has a huge impact on my personal productivity, achievement, and willingness to see something through. Achor’s work bears this out.  In a joint research project with LinkedIn, he found that the return on investment on praise in a work environment is remarkable.

Positivity improves retention.

“If (someone) received four or more touchpoints of praise or recognition in a quarter, the retention rate increased  to 96 percent over the next year.” So companies could reduce turnover if they just used more praise in the workplace. That is an absolutely stunning finding considering how easy it is to add a little praise to your day. Take the time to do two things:  Add at least one complimentary comment to every interaction, and include praise as a part of the standing agenda in your meetings.

Positivity removes limits.

My most profound performance shift has been from fear-based delivery to praise-based delivery. Achor writes about shifting your own picture of the world to a vision that gives you power. When you see the world as positive and supportive, you can be bold, support your team, and create a workplace that fosters creativity and high performance. Lead through guidance and praise rather than criticism or threats. With the right environment, teams are free of counterproductive limitations.  Don’t be surprised if creativity and high performance become a core competitive advantage for your business.

Positivity improves performance.

I have noticed that praise is contagious. When I’m kind and complimentary of another’s contributions, it comes right back to me. I also feel a boost in energy and creativity. Achor’s research supports this. “Praise creates a virtuous cycle; the more you give, the more you enhance your own supply. When done right, praise primes the brain for higher performance.” To create this reciprocal cycle of praise and performance, start giving compliments. Life has a way of serving up situations and people that reveal this power, so use everyday situations to create volley of positive conversation. Start practicing in any interaction – with a bank teller, a postal worker, a barista at Starbucks, or your team at the office. The uplifting effect, on your mood as well as your work, is tremendous.

Positivity creates momentum.

Achor says “the more energy (people) channel in a positive direction, the more power they have to pull others along with them.”  Having a greater impact – beyond my personal goals – is a powerful motivator and helps me show up to work as my best self. You can reach further and create forward momentum by building alliances with peers and sharing encouraging stories. Pretty soon, you’ll see signs that your organization is changing and know you played a part.

Achor’s book is all about leveraging the power of positivity to reach your own potential, personally and professionally. His research is full of proof points, to which I can personally attest. His tips are easy, immediately rewarding, and good for business.