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A Simple Management Hack: Positivity

Who is that person in your life that always makes you feel good?

Someone probably jumps to mind. It’s the person that, no matter how you are feeling before you see them, you feel better afterward.

One of mine is my Grandma Lois. I’m blessed to have grandparents as part of my life well into adulthood. My Grandma is one of the most positive people I have ever met. She’s rarely got a bad word to say about anything. She sees the best in everything around her. And, she has an easy smile that she shares readily.

My Grandma is like a positivity machine.

Hopefully, we all know people like this.

In the book, How Full is Your Bucket, late Gallup-founder Don Clifton and his grandson, Tom Rath, shared a really simple and powerful lesson about positivity. According to the authors, we experience approximately 20,000 unique moments each day. And these moments can be either positive, neutral or negative in terms of their emotion impact on us. The vast majority of moments each day are neutral. They suggest that when we have a good day, it’s because we experienced about five positive moments to every negative one.

The title of the book is a metaphor to help us remember the impact we have on others. The “bucket” holds our positive emotions. When you experience a positive moment, a drop goes in your bucket. A negative moment takes one out.  The book reminds us not only to tend to our own buckets but also to be aware of the impact we have on others. Are we filling other’s buckets or the reverse?

This is a pretty simple idea and a powerful tool for managers. There has been a lot of focus on employee recognition over the past several years. So much so, that recognition can begin to feel a little like a burden for managers. At the very least, I know that as a manager I never felt like I was doing enough to recognize my people.

By reframing the idea of recognition as filling the bucket, it starts to feel less burdensome. The question for you as a manager becomes, “How can I create more positive moments and avoid negative ones?”

How can you become more like my Grandma Lois and be a positivity machine for your employees?

A few ideas from my experience:

  • High fives. It’s hard not to smile when someone gives you a high five. At the very least, a positive shot of emotion goes through you when it happens. This is a highly underutilized management tool.
  • Say thank you.  Seems like a little thing. It’s not.
  • Ask about their kids (or whatever is important to them). We all have passions and interests. Know this about each person and ask them about it (and then listen).
  • Check in. The simple act of asking “How are you doing?” shows care and creates a positive moment.
  • Use your words.  When you notice something positive about someone, say it out loud to the person in the moment.  Too often, we let these moments pass.

Find ways to create positive moments for your team.  And, if you don’t know what fills their buckets, ask them.  If you want to get really serious about this, there’s a questionnaire included in the Bucket book that you can use with your team.

Be a positive moment machine.

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Jason Lauritsen