When your people are faced with challenges how do they generally respond? Do they face into them with a sense of hope, optimism, self-belief and resilience? Or do they become overwhelmed, stressed out and struggle to deliver the desired outcomes?
Let’s face it with uncertainty and complexity being the new normal in most workplaces, it can be difficult to navigate the seemingly endless list of challenges your team may be facing. And while you may have already considered the economic, physical and social resources your team has to draw upon, have you really invested in developing their psychological capital?
Have you figured out how to unlock the real performance potential of your team?
“Tapping into the psychological capital of your staff can unleash a real can-do attitude in how they go about their work,” explained leadership consultant Jo Murray when I interviewed her recently. “You can think of it in terms of really leveraging what’s unique about each of your employees, how they bring life and vitality to their role, and their potential to perform at extraordinary levels.”
In its simplest terms psychological capital can be understood as “who you are” and “what you can become in terms of positive development”. And a recent meta-analysis of 51 research samples found significant relationships between higher levels of psychological capital and employee attitudes such as job satisfaction, commitment and turnover intentions and employee behaviors such as citizenship and job performance.
So how can you cultivate psychological capital in your people?
Practically psychological capital involves the dynamic interplay between four distinct elements:
- Hope – When you’re hopeful you believe you are able to do something or have some influence in the workplace, you can see multiple pathways to achieve what you want to achieve, and you are able to set realistic goals and focus on achieving these goals.
- Efficacy – researchers have found that self-efficacy gives you the confidence to take action, the perseverance to give things a go, and to learn from your challenges and setbacks. And in turn, the successes you’ll achieve will bolster your hope.
- Resilience – Having resilience means you are not only able to successfully navigate the adversities and threats that occur in your career, but you are able to bounce back from these stronger than before.
- Optimism – When you’re optimistic you look for explanations for uncomfortable or negative experiences that don’t attribute yourself as the primary cause. And you see the event as temporary and specific, rather than an indication that everything is always bad in your life. Optimism gives you a sense of hope for the future, and the ability to navigate through life with a confident and positive attitude.
Often referred to as the HERO in each of us, studies have found that each of these components become more powerful when they’re combined, than individually.
Jo suggests three ways you can unleash the HERO in yourself and others:
- Understanding HERO – introduce the HERO framework to your team and help them understand how cultivating hope, efficacy, resilience and optimism can impact their performance and wellbeing at work. Create some common language, understanding and practices around the value of these approaches so they become part of the way you work together.
- Be your own HERO – invest in your own practice of the HERO mechanisms. What are you doing to cultivate hope in your own work? How are you building your own sense of confidence? When you fall down or fail at work, what makes it possible for you to get back up again? Are the stories you tell yourself and others optimistic explanations of what’s unfolding and what might happen next? How you mindfully building a daily HERO practice and sharing your learnings with others?
- Bring out the HERO in others – use questions that tap into the psychological capital of your employees in your coaching and performance conversations. For example, how can you help them find their own pathways and sense of agency when it comes to solving problems? Do you give them strengths-based feedback that genuinely builds their confidence? How do you help them adopt a growth mindset that allows them to learn from their mistakes and get back up to try again? What are you doing to gently challenge the stories they tell to find optimistic explanations for what’s unfolding?
How can you help your people discover their inner HERO at work?