Helping People Flourish at Work

Creating a Thriving Team

Helping People Flourish at Work - Creating a Thriving Team

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Have you ever been part of an unhappy team?

Chances are, morale and productivity were low, and people were unenthusiastic about their work. There may have been infighting, negativity, and high absenteeism. Work was miserable!

If you're in a management or leadership role, you won't want your team to be like this. This is why it's important to help people to be happy at work, and to flourish and thrive in their roles.

Why You Need Your Team to Thrive

Happy people are more productive, more engaged, and more likely to come up with new ideas. They're also more likely to enjoy coming in to work!

This leads to higher performance, increased productivity, lower absenteeism, reduced staff turnover, and a more satisfied and creative team. What's more, people who are happy enjoy better relationships and have a positive attitude. This increases effectiveness, boosts morale, and leads to a great atmosphere within the group.

Using the PERMA Model

So how can you help your people flourish and be happy?

The PERMA Model gives you a great starting point. PERMA was developed by positive psychologist, Martin Seligman, and was published in his 2011 book, "Flourish."

The model highlights the five elements necessary for people to experience lasting well-being. These are:

  1. Positive emotions.
  2. Engagement.
  3. Positive relationships.
  4. Meaning.
  5. Achievement and accomplishment.

Let's look at these elements in more detail, and discuss how you can help your people experience them more often in the workplace.

1. Positive Emotion (P)

Emotions such as gratitude, peace, pleasure, curiosity, and hope are essential for well-being, and we all want to experience these in our lives.

You can foster them in your team in the following ways:

  • Use Herzberg's Motivation-Hygiene Theory to deal with the factors that can cause people job dissatisfaction. You can then focus on the things that give people job satisfaction and, as a result, more positive emotions.
  • Give plenty of sincere praise.
  • Encourage more positive interactions within your team: the more positive interactions people experience, the better they'll feel.
  • Make sure that your team members have a healthy workplace. They won't feel good if they work in an uncomfortable or unsafe environment.
  • Encourage people to identify events or items that give them pleasure. Then allow them to experience more of these things in their work. For example, if they have kids, you could allow them some flexibility in their hours, so that they can collect their children from school one day a week. If they like spending time outdoors, they could bring plants into the office, or have "walking meetings" in the park.
  • If practical, allow people to use job crafting to shape their roles to fit their strengths and interests.

2. Engagement (E)

When your team members are engaged in what they're doing, they focus intensely, they lose track of time, and they enter a state of flow.

Engagement starts with good, clear communication. As such, you can improve engagement with the following strategies:

  • Use team briefings to keep everyone updated on what's happening within the team and organization.
  • Be as honest and open with your team members as possible. If they trust that you'll share everything you can with them, they'll feel more involved and connected with their roles and with the organization.
  • Minimize distractions, so that people can focus on their work. Get people to turn off their phones or IM chat when they need to concentrate, and (if they aren't managing other people) encourage them to close their office door when they need to focus on their work. Also, minimize external distractions, such as people talking nearby.
  • In his best-selling book, "Drive," author Daniel Pink points out that people are more engaged when they have some autonomy. Where you can, involve them in making decisions. Also, avoid micromanagement.
  • Your team members won't be engaged if they can't actually do their work. Support your team by ensuring that people have the tools, guidance, skills, and resources they need.
  • Training and development is an important part of engagement. Use cross-training, coaching, and mentoring to increase engagement.

3. Positive Relationships (R)

Your people may spend the majority of their waking hours at work. If they don't have positive relationships with you and with the people that they work with, their days will drag by, and they won't be happy.

You can help people to develop good relationships by doing the following:

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  • Build trust in your team by creating an environment that's open and nonjudgmental. Encourage people to voice their opinions, and don't censor discussions. As the team's leader, trust has to start with you: show your people that you trust them.
  • Encourage team members to spend time together outside work to build relationships. This might mean socializing at a restaurant at the end of the week, or organizing team-building away days. Even encouraging people to spend time together on lunch breaks, or on business trips, can have a positive effect on team relationships.
  • Manage team conflict appropriately, and minimize office politics.

4. Meaning (M)

People will find meaning in their work when they feel that what they're doing has a purpose bigger than themselves, and when they connect with their work on a deep level.

To help team members find meaning in what they do, use these strategies:

  • Use mission and vision statements and use Management by
    Objectives
    to link people's goals with those of the team and organization.
  • Remind people regularly how their work has a positive impact on other people. Share testimonials from happy customers, or tell stories that illustrate how their work has made other people's lives better. Do whatever you can to show your team members that they're making a positive contribution to the world.
  • If relevant, ensure that your people know about the positive effect that your organization has on the community.

5. Accomplishment/Achievement (A)

Many people strive to better themselves in some way – for instance, by mastering a new skill, or by achieving a difficult goal. As such, accomplishment is an important factor for happiness and well-being.

To help people recognize their achievements and accomplishments, do the following:

  • Set team members SMART goals, and then reward them appropriately when they've achieved these goals. This doesn't always mean offering a bonus or other tangible reward. Simple things, like saying "thank you" for a job well done, can show your people that you appreciate their efforts.
  • If people are having difficulty with projects or tasks, remind them what they've achieved recently. Then give them the support they need to get back on track.
  • Use the Inverted-U Model to give people challenging but achievable projects.
  • Help people recognize "small wins," so that they can see the progress they're making towards their objectives, day-by-day.
  • Use Management by Walking Around to "catch people doing things right." Then praise them appropriately when you see this.

Key Points

Psychologist Martin Seligman created the PERMA Model and published it in his book "Flourish." The model highlights five elements that need to be in place for people to experience lasting well-being.

These are:

  • Positive emotions.
  • Engagement.
  • Positive relationships.
  • Meaning.
  • Accomplishment/achievement.

You can use the model with your team by helping people experience these five elements in their work. Even simple things, such as saying "thank you" for a job well done or organizing ways for your team members to spend time together, will help them thrive and flourish.

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