3 Overlooked Benefits of Workplace Optimism
On the surface it’s easy to connect workplace optimism to happiness, satisfaction, teamwork or other positive workplace attributes. Let us, however, not confuse such attributes like happiness, satisfaction or teamwork as workplace optimism. These are merely outcomes because of workplace optimism.
I’ve previously defined workplace optimism, but let’s revisit it, as it’s important context. Workplace optimism is a belief that good things are possible when we apply our strengths and skills to work that matters. Work that matters is work we know has an impact on those for whom we apply our strengths and skills: internal or external customers, management, employees.
Workplace optimism is a belief that good things are possible.
It would be accurate, albeit simplified, to say the benefits of workplace optimism are happiness, satisfaction, teamwork, even employee engagement. A deeper look, though, reveals three richer benefits.
Martin Seligman, much considered the father of positive psychology, defines vitality as what someone has who expresses an energetic and infectious sense of aliveness and awareness. When workplace optimism gives us hope that good things are possible, and we see the outcomes of that hope manifested in our work and in our workplace, it grounds us. We feel good. That sense of being grounded and feeling good helps give way to vitality.
Workplace optimism emerges when there is progress. It is possible when we understand what is expected of us. More importantly we understand why we are doing what we’ve been asked to do. We understand why our work matters. We have clarity in the purpose of our work and how it contributes to goals. Clarity provides comfort. It provides reasons. It is reassuring.
When workplace optimism gives us hope that good things are possible, and we see the outcomes of that hope manifested in our work and in our workplace, it grounds us.
Best when shared, workplace optimism creates community. When we have community we can experience belonging. Just like the infectiousness of vitality, a shared sense of belonging provides a powerful injection of trust that only bolsters the community or team’s sense of unity.
I was at an event last year when a friend turned to me and said, “I found my tribe.” She was smiling wide. She was highly engaged. She was learning and exploring new ideas. Belonging is the gateway to team’s working extraordinarily well together. It is a wellspring for happiness.
Belonging is the gateway to team’s working extraordinarily well together.
Most of us focus on happy workplaces and employees. We want employees to be satisfied. These are much harder to control variables. Workplace optimism is the genesis of so many of the desired attributes of great workplaces. The beauty of it is a manager can directly influence its emergence.
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