Positive Psychology is the study of what makes people happy, instead of “just” studying how to bring them from sadness to a more neutral attitude. Popularized by Martin Seligman, it has now been the topic of numerous researches.
Some of the more known results are the 24 Characters, Strengths and virtues that concur to happiness. I would like to list them here so that we can ponder how we support those in our respective organizations to help foster more happiness at work.
The 24 are hereafter, questions are mine:
Wisdom and Knowledge (strengths that involve the acquisition and use of knowledge)
- creativity: do we foster creativity? (eg through facilitation techniques)
- curiosity: are people encouraged to ask questions?
- open-mindedness: do we listen to uncommon ideas?
- love of learning: do we help learning?
- perspective and wisdom: do we recognize expertise of low ranked collaborators instead of just that (supposed) of management?
Courage (strengths that allow one to accomplish goals in the face of opposition)
- bravery: do we encourage people to step out and express their concern, and then take their voice into consideration?
- persistence: “constancy of purpose” was a motto of Deming. Are we capable of it?
- integrity: do we take care of it?
- vitality: do we demonstrate it?
Humanity (strengths of tending and befriending others)
- love: do we seek to love our employees (which means to seek who they really are, and try to understand them)
- kindness: are we kind and fault tolerant or ruthless?
- social intelligence: do we cultivate this one?
Justice (strengths that build healthy community)
- active citizenship / social responsibility / loyalty / teamwork: are these promoted?
- fairness: are we known for it?
- leadership: do we encourage it?
Temperance (strengths that protect against excess)
- forgiveness and mercy: do we demonstrate these?
- humility and modesty: do we practice these?
- prudence: are we demonstrating it when taking decisions? Do we keep a door opened for opportunities or late advises?
- self-regulation and self-control: do we avoid trampling on others?
Transcendence (strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning)
- appreciation of beauty and appreciation of excellence: do we get out of own way to recognize them when we encounter them?
- gratitude: do we say “thank you” enough?
- hope: can we demonstrate hope in the middle of problems?
- humor and playfulness: can we conjugate work AND fun at the same time?
- spirituality, or a sense of purpose and coherence: how do we collectively make sense of the company’s purpose?
I hope I have given you hope that these soft skills do indeed have a place in organizations. Studies have already shown that happy employees are more efficient, and that happy organizations outperform others (see Gallup annual reports since quite a few years)…