What drives high performance in the workplace?

Posted by Simon Clark

April 4, 2018

What drives high performance in the workplace?

What drives high performance at work? On 2nd January 2018 I introduced “Positive Choices for 2018” – both here on-line and to our team at BarrettClark Executive Search.  Since then we have been exploring Positive Psychology – the Science of Wellbeing – and its impact on high performance in the workplace.

The proposition I made to our team was that we should be aware of our inherent negativity bias and the impact that it has in narrowing our thinking and perspective. From an evolutionary perspective, it makes sense that we pay attention to threats and problems, but this may not be helpful to us in our current circumstances.  Is paying attention to what is and could go wrong the best route to being well and accomplishing goals? What evidence is there to suggest that making positive choices affects our performance? What might change if we focus on strengths? How could our mindset change the outcomes we achieve?

After three months of regular discussion on this topic we decided to look at the evidence base for what we were learning.  This week we were fortunate to engage Dr. Paige Williams from the Centre for Positive Psychology at the University of Melbourne to conduct a bespoke workshop for us in London.

It was the most extraordinary day of learning:
  • Dr Paige Williams is part of the team in Melbourne that lectures on Positive Psychology and its impact – this university is in the top five in the world in this field. She also provides private consultancy to leadership teams.
  • Positive Psychology is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.
  • Negativity Bias is our brain’s natural inclination to notice problems, threats and challenges. “You can’t have a positive life and a negative mind”
  • What is the evidence about wellness and performance? Employees with higher levels of positive emotions, engagement and meaning have higher productivity, sales and creativity
  • Adopting a learning mindset – “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” Thomas Edison
  • Taking a strengths-based approach.
    In the afternoon we focused on what it might mean to take a strengths-based approach to ourselves and others; to think in terms of strengths rather than weaknesses, to concentrate on capacities rather than shortcomings and to focus on abilities instead of inabilities. Each of us had completed the Gallop StrengthsFinder survey on line which provided us with insights to our top talents and strengths. This part was particularly fascinating, and we now have a strengths matrix for the BarrettClark team that will enable us to deploy our talents and strengths to achieve high performance.

Dr Williams reminded us that our choices about our mindsets, perspective and use of talents and strengths, can take us from where we are today to our ‘best possible’ future and that, no matter what the situation, remind yourself “I have a choice”.

Feedback…..

“Today’s positivity and strengths workshop presented by Dr Paige Williams was extremely insightful and thought provoking. She supported us to identify our individual strengths and recognise how we can utilise each other’s to develop a positive and high-performance culture.” Dewi Jones

“The session gave an excellent and invaluable insight into the team’s individual key strengths – it’s imperative that we combine, utilise and continually refer to these to ensure we further build on our incredible success’ Andy Watts

“Paige is quite an inspiration, and her delivery interesting and engaging” Lucinda Walker

I thought it was interesting to focus on making our strengths stronger and finding practical ways to apply them as opposed to a focus on weaknesses and what we can’t do, by enhancing what we are already good at the gaps in our performance are reduced and altogether this means you have a more positive outlook on your performance” Steph Gregson

“Whilst I felt that I knew some of my key strengths it was really enlightening to see them on paper, the reasonings behind and really feel that I was being described. It was also great to see all of our team strengths as a collective and how this impacts our team dynamics” Heather Stanley

“Your energy is much better placed concentrating on being the best that you can be and on the things you are good at” Martin Jones

“Emma and I just wanted to thank you so much for including us in Page’s enlightening session today. She was brilliant. It was inspirational, educational, encouraging and above all fun and we both really enjoyed being part of the team.”  Kate Lumsden

“I’ve already started using the fixed to growth mindset material with my VERY fixed minded son!”  Kevin Mayes