This article originally appeared on Forbes.
At this time of year, many organizations are focusing on their annual goals and plans. Beyond quantifying targets and establishing commitments, though, there’s another approach that can help you create a trajectory for success, particularly in a year like this one, when many companies are dealing with challenges ranging from unplanned working from home to societal shifts.
Some organizations use a procedure called appreciative inquiry to help develop their plans: They enumerate the things the organization has done well and then use those examples as a model for building an even brighter future. There’s a comparable procedure, typically used by individuals, called savoring that can help employees identify and value what has gone well for them. Savoring has been shown to support individuals’ mental health, increase their happiness and job satisfaction and even prevent burnout when work is particularly challenging. Here are five ways you can use savoring to enhance both individual employee performance and team collaboration.
Pause to notice the good. We spend so much of our time at work caught up in what’s gone wrong today and what could go wrong tomorrow that we often assume the worst when we’re making decisions. According to Dr. Rick Hanson, psychologist, author, and senior fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, this negativity biascauses our brains to be “like Velcro for negative experiences, but [like] Teflon for positive ones.” When one CEO I coach feels down about the problems facing his organization, we talk about the next mountain that needs to be climbed, and how dangerous and frightening it might be; then I encourage him to describe the mountains he has already crossed. When we think purposefully about past successes, our feelings of satisfaction can increase our sense of efficacy and motivation for tackling other challenges.
Add savoring to daily standups and huddles. The standard questions used for managing team workflow come from Agile software development: What was yesterday’s work? What is today’s work? What’s in the way? Because these questions are meant to spur problem-solving, they automatically tend to focus on the negative. Consider adjusting your agenda at least once a week to poll team members about what things went really well, were surprisingly easy, or helped others. Encourage your team to focus on the good feelings that accompanied those experiences; thinking about them for 10 to 30 seconds can actually shift a person’s frame of mind to be more open more effectively than asking them to “be positive.”
Emphasize enjoying time together. Given today’s work-from-home environment, it has become harder for teams to feel good together. Look for occasions to spend a few minutes sharing happy news, both professional and personal, as part of a morning coffee hour, weekly happy hour or group meeting. These brief conversations let team members express their support and their gratitude for each other, both of which can boost job performance and collaboration. Once you’ve established a regular practice of sharing good news internally, look for opportunities to broaden your circle to include other teams with whom you work. These upbeat interactions create opportunities for employees to get to know each other better as people and create a reserve of trust and ease to draw on when interdepartmental stresses are running high.
Compare successful experiences to unsuccessful ones. Many teams conduct post-mortems, retrospectives or reflection exercises to identify potential improvements. If that is part of your practice, at the end of the meeting bring the conversation around to the aspects of initiatives and projects that went well. The special twist here is to remember and take satisfaction in how good it felt to do well. You can prompt those conversations by saying something like, “Remember when we worked on the launch of the ABC project? We were all exhausted, but we had so much fun figuring out the packaging and tweaking those final letters.” Ask team members to write down a couple of thoughts about how to trigger those kinds of positive feelings and experiences again. Carry these forward the way you would apply any negative lessons.
Recap successes publicly. Successful people and groups often move on to the next thing quickly. Don’t waste the opportunity to highlight your team’s talents, dedication, and more personal involvement: make sure to acknowledge the person who brought in homemade brownies to give everybody a lift or the one whose sense of humor got the group through a bad patch. Warm expressions of gratitude are another way to bring attention to what has gone well, recognize those who have made significant contributions, and relive some of your triumphs. Everybody feels better being associated with a winning team, but it can be easy to forget the wins when you’re already embroiled in new challenges.
Relishing successes and good feelings can be an effective hedge against the ongoing strains and hassles of today’s uncertain forecasts and remote work experiences. Using these five savoring techniques can help you increase your team members’ positive perspective and ground them so they can overcome the difficulties they’ll face this year.
Onward and upward —
LKOriginally posted at: https://lizkislik.com/how-to-help-your-team-make-the-most-of-the-new-year/