Creating a Culture of Optimism in Your Office

Maureen Leif, President, Grays Peak Strategies

If уоu talk аbоut орtіmіѕm, you will find no shortage of quotes, clichés, proverbs or stories to guide уоu. Орtіmіѕm is the original Amеrісаn drеаm. Have you ever had a period of time in your job where you felt like everything was right and hopeful? Why did you have those positive feelings? Were you connected to the mission of the organization, felt like you had purpose, felt valued as a whole person, or all of the above?

Studies have shown that optimistic people heal faster, perform better, live longer and rероrt more hарріnеѕѕ аnd fulfіllmеnt in thеіr lіvеѕ. Likewise, optimistic еmрlоуееѕ wоrk harder, longer аnd with a mоrе іnnоvаtіvе spirit. Oрtіmіѕtіс сuѕtоmеrѕ bеlіеvе in the vаluе оf what уоu аrе ѕеllіng, аnd are more satisfied with the purchase or experience.

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So how can you cultivate a culture of optimism in your organization? Culture іѕ simply the unwrіttеn ѕеt оf rules within уоur organization. The first thing to understand is that optimism is a choice we can all make.  It can be an easier choice if you are making your goals, and things are going well, but it is an even more important choice when things are challenging.  Optimism is not a reflection of what is happening, rather, it is a reflection of what you believe CAN happen.  It is belief in the people around you, belief in the mission, and belief that you can and will be successful.  Here are some strategies to put you on the path to creating an optimistic culture.

  1. Lеаd by еxаmрlе. Show the people you work with that you believe in the mission and goals of the organization, and make it clear that you believe in a positive future and in success in meeting your goals.
  2. Check in with your team members often and ask questions to understand obstacles or stressors that going on.  Do not be afraid of eliciting negative feedback. This feedback is valuable and can help you prioritize your efforts in getting that culture of optimism back. Practice saying, “Thank you for telling me this”.
  3. Take action on the issues at hand. Understanding stress and obstacles is important, but addressing them is critical.  You can’t solve everything, and some solutions take time, but let the people around you know you not only heard them, but you are working to do something.
  4. Highlight success and celebrate accomplishments. It can be difficult to take your attention away from problem areas, but paying attention to success and celebrating accomplishments will help the entire organization focus on the positive, and put issues and challenges in perspective.
  5. Foster transparency. Employees who are nervous and operating under suspension of what is happening within the organization lack trust. Lacking trust will lead to decision making that is fear-based and often times will not be beneficial to the organization. If you do not know the answers to their questions, practice saying, “I know this is important to you and I do not know the answers at this time”.
  6. Personalize your interactions.  Employees are whole people. They have personal lives and understanding and getting to know them on that level builds trust and increases optimism. Foster team building opportunities and manage teams to their strengths and interest. For example, if you have creative team members, let them use those skills to work on a marketing or outreach plan. If you have people that like to write, have them write an article for the agency newsletter. Practice saying, “What is your dream”?  Help your employees find purpose and make sure that you are clear on your own purpose.
“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t… You’re right”
— Henry Ford

Studies show that optimism is one of the characteristics that aligns with overall satisfaction of life. Optimism means that you believe that your future is bright and you have things to look forward to and you feel positive about the direction you are headed.  Likewise, an optimistic work culture means that people are satisfied in the direction the organization is headed, feel positive about the future and have trust in the team. Optimism is fundamental to our personal well-being and to the well-being of your organization. In our lives, optimism builds resilience against stressors and improves overall health.  Likewise, an optimistic culture at work improves the health of the organization and puts you in the position to be innovative, forward thinking, and creative.

Following these strategies can put you on a path to creating an optimistic culture at work.  GPS can help you tailor an approach specific to your organization, your goals and the successes and challenges that make up your day. Contact Us for more information and ideas.