Amplify what is working well

Here’s part 2 of our exploration of what is working well at work. If we pay attention and energy to what we normally take for granted, and see how we could amplify the good things, the results might dazzle you. What if you could start a positive spiral of small successes and little joys that invigorate yourself and your team? I challenge you to focus (more) on the obvious: what is working well. Let me share some more examples from the Positive Culture Academy.

Looking for what is going well is powerful. It’s the basis of Appreciative Inquiry and of Positive Organizational leadership. That’s why we practice it in the Positive Culture Academy.

Supportive and Inspired

Let’s review what some participants of the Academy answered. Bill shared: “I did voluntary work at a club over the last two years. We were inspired by serving the greater good and how we grew together, and appreciated how kind, appreciative and supportive we were to each other. We had great autonomy and trust to do what we really wanted. The events we organized got excellent feedback, especially for having Heart.”
Reading this, I’d love to join them!

When Bill focused on what didn’t go well, he said: “People were very busy and this was a voluntary commitment so sometimes things were done very close to our event date. I also could have spent more time on facilitating commitment around how we would work together in the beginning and also debriefed in greater depth after events.” How does that sound? Less energizing, for sure. Would you join them?

Getting things done

Jacqueline’s example: “What goes well and inspires people? Getting work done and making an impact on customers. We know that the data we provide makes a difference. We would be at our very best when we catch failures in data acquisition as quickly as possible and build relationships with data suppliers to get advance notice of changes.” Great focus on what’s working well, and she includes a challenge to further improve.

Even though improving their work needs some more creativity. “The problem is we can’t afford to injure current processes and we have a high work volume with urgent things popping up. Finding the time to look for broader solutions is a struggle.”
Put this way, the challenge doesn’t feel so good anymore. We’re entering a struggle here. That’s not what we would want… If Jacqueline would rephrase it, she might get us onboard to help her. “How could we collaborate to build relationships with data suppliers to get advance notice of changes, and catch failures quickly? Once we have this in place, our high work volume would be no problem because there wouldn’t be urgent things popping up! We’d dazzle everyone with what we’d get done!”

Passion and Pride

What is working well in Gabrielle’s workplace is: “Pride and passion about a ‘higher cause’; working and learning from cross-department teams; working on high profile projects; personal contact with the CEO and company owners.” Sounds good! Their work is important, and prestigious.
What could be improved is “taking full responsibility and giving ourselves permission to ‘be empowered’.

Gabrielle is working on this challenge as we speak. She used to hear objections like:
“My boss doesn’t let me”, “Why should I do that, when s/he doesn’t”, “It’s not my responsibility / not on my job description”, “S/he doesn’t have the skills to do that”, and “I don’t have time to do x”. Typical expressions of problem-thinking, and maybe even comfortably hiding behind big hairy obstacles.
Gabrielle’s focus is on their higher cause, what’s working well, and how everyone could contribute to that cause. She provoking people to give it a go, to step up for this reason.

How about your workplace?

I hope you feel it, too: the energy when you start from what is already working well, and next, see how you could facilitate that greatness by further improving the organization. What I also like about this exercise is seeing the uniqueness of both people and organizations. Some are inspired by getting things done, others by the greater good, others by a wonderful CEO. This diversity illustrates some of the values of the current culture, in alignment with the Competing Values Framework.

Unfortunately, Jeanie doesn’t work in a great place. She found it hard to see anything that is working well: “It sounds like many of you are working places where there is asking and real caring for team members! I had a particularly uninspiring week last week, so hearing about other positive experiences reminded me about the times when I have worked in these environments and was able to help shape the positivity in the culture.
My goal for this week is to focus on my own behaviors and interactions to make sure that I am modeling and reinforcing a positive work environment.”
Her short-term solution is great, though. She focuses on what she can do: giving what she would like to get: care and attention. In the long term, she might need to look for another workplace (if not enough people respond to her positive interactions).

  • How about you? What is working well in your organization that you’d like to keep and amplify?

Do you want to amplify what is working well? Join this Positive Culture Academy. The curriculum can be done self-paced. Help your team or organization develop its positive potential.

© Marcella Bremer, 2018. All rights reserved.

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