Organizational Psychology & Coaching For Well-Being In The Workplace

organizational coaching positive psychologyOrganizational Psychology is currently on the rise in the realm of psychology, with exponential growth over the past few years.

Organizational Psychology focusses on the well-being of CEO’s and employees in order to foster healthy minds and consequently enhance the standard of output at work.

It aligns itself with the essential nature of positivism in psychology and how imperative it is to have a career that mentally and emotionally fulfils (see job crafting), challenges and centres us; most of us do spend almost half of our time in the workplace after all.

Why is it Important to Achieve Satisfaction in the Workplace?

It is essential to have a career we genuinely enjoy or find fulfilling, and if these criteria are established and met, then our performance tends to improve; whilst obviously aiding our mental state. Csikszentmihalyi discusses a state of flow in positive psychology, which can be applied in regard to satisfaction in the workplace.

He expresses that when:

“We engage in an activity that we enjoy and that gives us enough challenge to our skills, we become absorbed in that activity and reach a state of flow.”

Consequently, if we are “totally focussed”, then we feel a sense of timelessness and inner clarity. This in turn leads to a “lack of conscious of ourselves or the word around us.” Thus, if we become so absorbed in our work, then, as the old saying goes, time flies. If we become engaged in fulfilling, challenging work then this sustains our happiness and contributes to the overall well-being of our lives.

Luthans discuss positive organisational behaviour, and seeks to move away from concepts of negativity. Instead of trying to amend weaknesses, he believes we should focus on optimising strengths in a proactive manner.

If we are positively focussed, then it will foster a greater amount of satisfaction, and if the whole team is substantially more fulfilled, then it’s likely that teamwork will be undertaken with better communication, and an openness to new ideas.

The notion of positive teamwork leading to a greater production of work is supported by recent research from Tasca. He discovered that due to the inherent social nature of humans, we tend to assemble into groups, with two reasons being imperative to a work environment, these are for power and for economic factors.

In turn he believes if these groups are cohesive, then these communal goals lead to an improvement in productivity and prosperity. Therefore, if a positive environment is created that facilitates healthy relationships, teamwork is likely to be more beneficial than individual work.

Tasca stresses the hierarchy of goals, first and foremost we all possess individual goals, and if these aren’t in alignment with the overall goals of the team then there will be dissonance. Thus, he clarifies that the behaviour of each individual is key to the overall well-being and functioning of the group.

Tasca defines team work as a continual, interactive dynamic, and the behaviour of the members of the team causes the direction of the work, either in a positive or negative way. Thus, effective group work leads to positive results; a clear argument for a positive work environment.

The Power of Incentives:

Work with incentive increases output, for example employees tend to improve their performance if rewards or incentives are offered.

Christine Meyer can vouch for this, she found clear support for the impact of interventions in the work place on employee well-being, the findings displaying higher rates of: happiness, positive emotions, optimism, assertiveness, vigour and self-efficacy; thus only reinforcing the essential value of a healthy, supportive work environment.

Putting Organizational Psychology into Practice

1. Mindfulness exercises

These establish calm, centring and create a level of trust between group members; we are all vulnerable during these exercises, focussing on the inner corners of our minds so to do this in the presence of our colleagues a sense of openness is established.

2. Incentives

Positive reinforcement has been a key aspect of psychology for years, and it is so famed precisely because of it’s clear benefits.

Positive reinforcement leads to the establishment of a behaviour, so if we are given a prize upon reaching a target at work, we are more likely to continue working at a higher level of productivity in order to keep receiving rewards. It sounds childlike, but our brains constantly function at this level of reward-seeking, it’s inherent human nature.

3. Praise strengths and ignore weaknesses

Instead of telling someone what they did wrong, tell them what they did right in order to establish a level of confidence. If someone feels capable and needed, they will try harder to prove this, it’s the self-fulfilling prophecy.

What we believe, we do. Thus, if an employee’s strengths are praised, they will likely apply themselves more to the job, in turn subconsciously amending their weaknesses along the way.

How Can Oraganizational Psychology Help You?

In utilising the ever growing organizational psychology resources that are out there, it is easier to create a positive change in your own work environment. Speak to your manager, explain the benefits of facilitating a workplace full of healthy, satisfied minds. In turn, if you are the boss then bring in a psychologist to examine the effects their methods can have on your own workforce.

Seligman discusses living a life that is: pleasant, engaged and meaningful. If these three attributes are applied in regard to work life, everyone involved will be undefinably happier. To put up with something because it’s work will just weigh you down, we can be happy in every aspects of our being – not just in our down time.

Overall, it is clear that there is a symbiotic relationship between organizational psychology and positive psychology, as directing attitudes positively, and not focussing on weaknesses or repercussions clearly leads to a mindset of focus, self-belief and fulfilment.

Organizational psychology is essential in maintaining productive performance, establishing goals and fulfilling the goals we often feel we fall short of.

In setting realistic goals that revolve around your individual strengths, you are far more likely to find success.

“To create a high-performance team, we must replace typical management activities like supervising, checking, monitoring, and controlling with new behaviors like coaching and communicating.”
– Ray Smith (CEO of Bell-Atlantic)

“I would like to raise my overall happiness from a 6 to an 8.” Realistic? No.

Experienced coaches know that clients rarely, if ever, seek services to become happier. Instead, clients typically come to coaches because they want to find more satisfaction in the jobs, or they want to deal with a problem at work, or finally focus on that dream novel that has been on the back burner for so long.

The bottom line is that whether or not clients explicitly identify happiness as their ultimate goal, they do seek to be more emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically fulfilled. Even for those who claim their most pressing concern is increasing their influence or earning a larger paycheck, it is likely that these are actually stepping-stones to a deeper sense of meaning and fulfillment.

More satisfaction at work, increased time with family, and progress on that long-unwritten novel all include emotional aspects of what we know as happiness. When coaches ask powerful questions or create awareness, they often do so with the implicit assumption that their coaching is in the service of happiness.

So What is Coaching?

“I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities.”

– Bob Nardelli 

You’ve probably heard people talking about coaching in the workplace, and you might have even used coaching to improve a person’s performance. But what actually is coaching? And what skills do you need to be an effective coach? Why should we use it?

Coaching is a useful way of developing people’s skills and abilities, and to boost performance. A coaching session will typically focus on helping the person discover answers for themselves. After all, people are much more likely to engage with solutions that they have come up with themselves, rather than those that are forced upon them.

Coaching is a process of equipping people with the tools, knowledge, and opportunities they need to fully develop themselves to be effective in their commitment to themselves, the company, and their work.

Coaching is not management skills re-packaged, although coaching draws on certain management skills and competencies. Coaching deals with employee growth, development, and achievement by removing roadblocks to performance and enhancing creatively.

Coaching is not therapy or counseling, although some coaches use similar communication processes. Coaching is about creativity, performance and action, while therapy deals with the resolution and healing of the past.

Finally, coaching is not training. Coaches give information, but they support those they coach in developing their own skills and knowledge.

Although coaching in the workplace is just as important as coaching in a sport, the approach is different. Sports coaches mentor their athletes, using technical skills and experience. By contrast, questioning and reflection are often more important in workplace coaching.

Where Can Coaching Help?

  • Managing time better to achieve what you want in life
  • Deciding what to do next in your career within the organization
  • Reducing the stress in your job or life
  • Achieving a better balance between work life and home life
  • Developing skills to grow further
  • Improving your relationship with a specific colleague

 

Coaching has been identified by workplaces as a critical leadership and management competency. Retention is also critical, and coaching supports employee development and satisfaction, which keeps valued employees.

Successful coaching adds values to employees, who then add value to their organizations by giving their best. Employees want to be happy, productive and innovative, and coaching creates the environment where this can happen.

Research and experience shows that employees perform better when positively coached, rather than being constantly evaluated. People with more positive attitudes are more likely to succeed in their jobs and careers.

Coaching skills also builds and enhances team and work group performance, improves management and leadership, and promotes diversity awareness.

Who Are the Coaches?

Successful managers and leaders are developing their coaching skills. The best workplace coaches are those who understand and develop their own coaching style, who know how to adapt their style to coach others, and who can use the coaching process effectively through understanding and skill development.

What About Barriers?

Some organizations are reluctant or unable to implement effective internal coaching. This may be due to:

  • The organizational culture
  • Lack of understanding of the value of coaching
  • Not seen as a priority for the business
  • Resistance from senior management
  • Low levels of skills and experience within the organization
  • Lack of time and resources

 

If the organization has the majority of these barriers, you may find that attempting to use coaching will have a detrimental rather than motivational effect. But if you decide to introduce coaching as a part of your own management style, then you should think about doing it gradually. The first steps you could take include:

    1. Practice active listening.
    2. Develop effective questioning skills (to replace giving instructions and to encourage participation in meetings and discussions).
    3. When giving feedback, allow time to ask for the team members’ own perceptions.

 

“I believe that wherever there is mastery, coaching is occuring. And whenever coaching is done, mastery will be the outcome.”

– Andrea J. Lee

Biswas-Diener, R., & Dean, B. (2007). Positive psychology coaching: Putting the science of happiness to work for your clients. Chichester, United Kingdom: Wiley, John & Sons.

Cacioppe, R. (2012). Why Coaching In The Workplace? Retrieved here.

Organizational Barriers to Coaching. Retrieved here.

Ten Ways Coaching Can Help Your Organization. Retrieved here.

Collin, C. (2012). The psychology book. New York: Dorling Kindersley Publishers.

Gilovich, T., Keltner, D., & Nisbett, R. E. (2012). Social psychology. New York: Norton, W. W. & Company.

Luthans, F. (2002). The need for and meaning of positive organizational behavior. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23(6), 695–706.

Meyers, M. C., van Woerkom, M., & Bakker, A. B. (2013). The added value of the positive: A literature review of positive psychology interventions in organizations. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 22(5), 618–632.<

Seligman, M. E. (2003). Authentic happiness: Using the new positive psychology to realise your potential for lasting fulfillment. London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing.

Tasca, G. A. (2016). Statistical methods in group psychology and group psychotherapy: Introduction to the special issue. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 20(3), 121–125.

Comments

  1. Martha Hildebrand

    Very informative!

    Reply
  2. Serah Njeri

    I totally agree with positive Psychology for betterment of individuals and the whole community be it at workplace or outside.THANKS A BUNCH.

    Reply
  3. James Butcher

    Thanks for the article. My only quibble is with the advice to “praise strengths and ignore weaknesses”. My concern about ignoring weaknesses is that it can lead to complacency – I think most people want fair balanced feedback that explains what they do well and what they don’t do feel. Without the fair negatives they not to believe the positives.

    Reply

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