The traditional approach in human resource development tends to focus on employee skills and competencies in order to improve performance and productivity. Ordinarily, managers evaluate a worker’s skills and set out to improve his weaknesses hoping to turn them around. A new approach, though somewhat unpopular in large business organizations that hand out clear cut job descriptions, is to identify and develop a person’s strengths while managing weaknesses using positive psychology.
Positive psychology is based on the idea that a satisfied and fulfilled workforce promotes the best interests of any business organization. Its proponents believe that the key to business success lies in promoting peaceful and mutually satisfying relationships between the organization and its people.
Psychologists maintain that positive psychology works because a positive emotion:
- broadens people’s mindsets allowing them to set higher goals and find ways to achieve them.
- encourages people to discover new ways of thinking and alternative actions or solutions to problems
- fuels resilience essential for persevering in challenging times; and
- can reverse the undesirable effects of negative emotions.
Character strength: A range of character strengths have been linked to a sense of well-being and fulfillment. These include bravery, capacity to be loved, spirituality and moral character. When choosing a candidate for a position, the question to ask is not “Can you perform this collection of tasks to an acceptable level?” but instead “What can you do really well, and how does that relate to our required outputs?” The latter question is likely to draw a list of character strengths which are best suited for the job and add value to the business.
Positive emotions: Promoting positive feelings at work significantly improves work outcomes as studies show that satisfied workers are more cooperative, helpful, punctual, time efficient, take fewer absences and are retained longer. Positive emotions may be induced by simple exercises to enhance mood, promote humour, and encourage appreciation.
Positive psychology, however, does not exclude negativity entirely. Certain types of negativity are still considered essential in appropriate situations and can be used to improve performance. Examples are evaluative comments, searching criticism and challenging and demanding observations. When deemed absolutely necessary, negative measures must be specific, time-limited and focused on obtaining a solution. (Source: Harvard Business Review)
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