“Modern psychology has been co-opted by the disease model. We’ve become too preoccupied with repairing damage when our focus should be on building strength and resilience” (Martin Seligman, founder of the field of positive psychology)
Employees, and many managers alike, often become stuck with limiting assumptions or debilitating paradigms – bonded to a story that offers no possibility of change or forward momentum. They play this story over and over again in their minds and also in their conversations – e.g. “There is no way that we are going to get the required results…”, “This situation will never change…”, “I am useless at…” or “Our company culture will never improve – it’s awful”. As such, not only do they weld this pattern of thinking into the brain’s neural pathways, but also develop an environment that is foreboding, unpleasant and disempowering. The resulting negative energy diffuses focus and retards productivity.
When faced with problems, the obvious approach to finding a resolution is to examine and understand the cause. When understanding the cause, the logic follows that the action to be taken will emerge. Problem examination is logical, but not necessary for change. When one focuses on finding solutions, however, energy gets applied to new courses of action rather than fixing problems, building on strengths rather than weaknesses and finding positive ways forward rather than examining barriers. By directing energy in a positive way, focusing on strengths and working towards a solution, employees and managers will feel motivated and energised rather than demotivated and demoralised.
Focusing on finding solutions requires the following approach:
- Adopting a positive outlook to change – focus should be on shaping the future and not analysing the past.
- Developing clear goals and a self-directed action plan – define specific goals and take responsibility to implement actions to achieve these goals.
- Find solutions and aim for the future – link your strengths to possible solutions and use your skills, knowledge and abilities towards future success.
- Rely on experience, expertise and available resources – farm your network for assistance, ideas and suggestions. Tap into the wisdom of others.
- Keep reframing your perspective – it’s easy to regress to limiting assumptions. Self-reflection and self-talk is necessary to focus on the possible and prevent slipping into a negative demeanour.
Focus on finding solutions. Organisations need to create an empowering environment where all employees (managers and staff alike) can examine and implement new actions to achieve organisational goals.
Free To Grow partners with organisations to shape and sustain a culture of engagement and collaboration (www.freetogrow.com)