The Two-Minute Exercise to Boost Your Team’s Productivity

June 30, 2014 at 9:01 AM by Kathleen de Lara

employee moraleIt’s finally come. The flow of talent into your funnel is reaching a screeching halt and the team is scrambling to find ways to make up for lost time, aloof candidates, and unanswered emails. 

Before you start making a list of all the things you coulda, shoulda, woulda done better to prepare for the seasonality, take a breather for 120 seconds and try approaching your Monday worries using this quick trick.

Your brain on happiness is a productive, creative beast. We all know it and science proves it, too. So why do we continue to push the envelope and butt heads with our team by driving success through pressure?

In the TED talk, “The Happy Secret to Better Work,” Shawn Achor discusses his studies on positive psychology and how people can train themselves to alter their attitude, and in turn, work more productively. 

(What’s positive psychology? It’s a branch of psychology focused on understanding how happiness and well-being can influence humans’ ability to thrive.)

So he did a study and found that by doing this activity once a day for 21 consecutive days, one could rewire their brain to be more optimistic and to work more effectively: Write down three new things you’re grateful for every day, and you’ll get into the habit of seeing your environments for its positive aspects first.  

Boost your employees’ morale and motivation to work smarter, instead of harder, by training the team to process the idea of success by focusing on what one has achieved, and then what one has yet to accomplish, instead of vice versa. 

“Your brain at positive performs significantly better than it does at negative, neutral or stressed. Your intelligence rises, your creativity rises, your energy levels rise. In fact, what we've found is that every single business outcome improves. Your brain at positive is 31 percent more productive than your brain at negative, neutral or stressed…If we can find a way of becoming positive in the present,then our brains work even more successfully as we're able to work harder, faster and more intelligently.”

Be positive in the present. 

“Every time your brain has a success, you just changed the goalpost of what success looked like,” Achor says. Every time a goal is achieved, there’s a tendency and desire to do better next time, but there’s also an energy sink of an attitude: “We’re not as good as we could be.” 

For most, the idea of success is one that’s always changing. And while it’s beneficial for the team to be consistently raising the bar and discovering ways to make the company better, there’s a tendency to recognize the gap between where the team is now and where they could be as a lack, a negative, the absence of victory. Deliver feedback effectively by focusing on praise, then critique and offer your management and support. "Tell me, how can I help?" works wonders.

Share and acknowledge individual employees’ achievements with the team.

Give credit where it’s due to boost employee morale. There are tasks and duties that come as part of any team member’s job, but it’s important to recognize those who outperform their expectations or meet the company’s goals, especially in the context of challenges like the decrease in candidates coming into the funnel during the summer season. 

Welcome stress as a challenge, not a threat. 

When the brain recognizes high performance influences the outcome of a situation, the reaction is typically this: Adrenaline and cortisol flow into the bloodstream, muscles tense, and heartbeat and breathing speed up. “75% of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support, and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of a threat,” Achor said. Anticipate errors with solutions, and frame those solutions as strategies, not backup plans. 

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