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Posts Tagged ‘postive psychology

HR and the recession

People are out hunting again for information on HR and the recession.  I’ll briefly recap my thoughts her.

1 Keep positive

The over-riding goal of HR during a recession is to remain positive.  I don’t mean vacuous gushy “everything will be alright” talk.  We look foolish when we deny the reality of the precariousness of our financial situation and our the hardships being encountered by people around us.

In practice, being positive means this. Get yourself home. Get your staff home. Have plenty of R&R.  Begin the survival course of the recession by keeping the HR team in blooming psychological health.

Then work on the managers. Make sure they are in rude psychological health. Get them home.  Make sure they are keeping things in perspective.

And lastly work on the employees. Make sure they have plenty of time off and if they are on short-time, try to arrange training and meaningful activities that speak to their innermost dreams and sense of who they will become in the future – good economy or bad.

In short, our job is to “do our blooming in the crack and whip of the whirlwind”.  We can’t stop living just because the economy has gone bottoms-up.

2 Get business minded

Cut out the BS, the bullying and the waste of trees.  Get the business facts onto the table.  Ask what evidence there is that something works or doesn’t work.

Ask what needs to be done now. Right now. When someone is throwing their weight around, ask them for one hour when they can stand up in front of the company and explain their vision of the future with facts and figures.

Keep the discussion focused on what our current customers are buying, what we do well, and what we could do more of quite easily.  If someone has a wish-list, ask them to sketch out a project and take charge of it – including persuading people to cooperate.

3 Get negotiation minded

No one is in business to please us. Not our customers. Not our suppliers.  Not our employees.

What are they willing to do right now?  This minute.  What of those choices is good for the business?  Get that done right now.

When someone sulks, ask them what they are willing to do right now.

Of course, negotiation is a two way street. What are you willing to do right now. And do it when called for.

Is this HR?

Sure it is. HR isn’t a set of tree-wasting morale-hoovering procedures.  It is keeping the team together in a constructive mood.

We can only achieve our mission when we are feeling fresh and rested.  We can only do that when we are talking about mutual goals (business).  We can only do that when stress belonging – what we are doing together rather than what we are not.

And it begins with us.  If our mental health is ragged, we can’t support the managers.  They will become ragged and they can’t support their employees. If necessary, retain a positive psychologist to telephone you weekly or even daily.  Otherwise just look after yourself.  Go home. Eat fresh food. Take exercise. Keep a gratitude diary.   You will notice the difference.

Then cut out the time-wasting and focus on business.

Then focus on belonging.  Why does this person want to be here?  Why do we want them here? Have we made that clear?  Are we setting th tone for a positive inclusive enviroment?

HR is a leadership role

A stern tone – yes, I think I am becoming impatient.  That won’t do.  I must take my own advice.  But this why I am so certain of my advice.

This is not a recession folks.  Stop dithering, and step up to the plate to deliver the positive, business minded, inclusive leadership that we joined HR to do.

And that applies to me too.

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Pottery Jar, Acoma Pueblo, taken at Field Museum
Image via Wikipedia

Hold On…

A Pueblo Indian Prayer

Hold on to what is good,

even if it’s a handful of earth.

Hold on to what you believe,

even if it’s a tree that stands by itself.

Hold on to what you must do,

even if it’s a long way from here.

Hold on to your life,

even if it’s easier to let go.

Hold on to my hand,

even if I’ve gone away from you.

Found on Inspiration Peak

[Use this when the day has made you too gloomy to fill out a gratitude diary.  Remember what is good, what you believe in, what you must do and who is important to you.]

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Harvard on the credit crunch and bank bailout

Two weeks ago or so, Harvard staged a panel discussion on the “credit crunch” and the “bank bailout”.  SocialMediaToday have video which is longish (1:36) but worth watching.

Many people will not watch the video fearing they will not understand it or because they think, so what – I can’t influence the politicians anyway.

First, the video is accessible.

Harvard professors are where they are because they are informed and communicate clearly.  They are refreshingly clear about how the mess developed and what might be done about it.  I found I developed a clear idea of the discussions I want to take place and the parts of the system I would be happy to see disappear.

Second, understanding leads to a sense of control.

When all is said and done, happy people exercise control.  By understanding what can and cannot be done, we figure out where to act and then we act.  Not understanding makes us feel anxious.  Saying “I cannot influence politicians” is “learned helplessness”.  It makes us feel awful!

Happiness is taking part

I am certainly going to trot down to the pub to meet my local politician on his rounds and ask him clearly what he will be doing.  I have a rough idea of the questions I will ask and I will watch the video again so I can summarize my ideas and keep it short.  Nonetheless,  I’d better be prepared to buy him a stiff whisky!

Once I start the conversation in the village in which I live, I am sure I will be educated further not only about what can and cannot be done, but also about other people’s hopes and fears.

Thereafter I hope we move to a positive consideration of what are we going to do about the impending changes in our lives.  I don’t want just to hunker down and hold my breath.  I want to be part of a conversation which looks at ways of taking the community to a better place for everyone – a place where we thrive in the increasingly competitive global knowledge economy.  I’ll let you know if I gain any insights.

I’d be interested in your thoughts.

UPDATE: For an HR Managers perspective on the Recession, I have written a summary on a new post.

So, I am a psychologist, but how can I become a positive psychologist?

I have found three essential competencies that I need to master in addition to my conventional training.  Can you think of any more?

New maths

1.  I need to be able to think in terms of fractals.   To be more concrete, I need to think of phenomena at three levels.

  • A clutch of relevant dimensions that are interdependent (a recursive model, that is).  So I am happy when the world is good to me and the world is good to me when I am happy.
  • Phenomena that are phase states.  So I am thriving when I am happy about good things and sad about bad things and move appropriately between the emotive states.   I am sort of coping when my state varies but it is limited.  I am definitely not flourishing when my mood is consistently positive or negative no matter what happens around me.
  • The benefits of the phase states are phrased at a different level of analysis, such as prosperity and longevity, and are expressed as mean differences rather than a direct linear effect.

Narratives

2.  Out goes the lab report, though I need it for some things, and in comes the story.  Can I tell a story about who does what, to what, and why?  Can I recount stories that reflect my vulnerability?  Can I create situations which respect the voice of others?

After a life time of “science” I find myself learning the art of story telling.  We have great role models in TED and fortunately great coaches such as Cliff Atkinson are stepping up on the business front.

Personal experience

3.  Have I applied positive techniques to my own life and do I approach situations appreciatively as reflexively as I looked for objectivity in my conventional training?

Am I able to take part in the mutual environment of action research or do I have to hide behind a facade of objectivity?

Any more?  I think positive psychology is going to take us on an interesting journey of professional transformation.

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The way psychologists were taught to think

I suspect that the most interesting concept in positive psychology, if you are a psychologist, is the relationship between the past, the present, and the future.

Our training is based predominantly on on linear models. We are trained to think that if we are X today, we will be Y tomorrow. Most of our tuition taught us to define and measure X’s and Y’s and took for granted that today and tomorrow are independent.

The way psychologists will be taught to think

Positive psychology is based on recursive models. The past does not predict the future; it is part of the future. Mathematically, we predict the value of X in the future, rather than the value of Y in the future.

Is the future a separate place?

David Whyte’s Midlife and the Great Unknown begins by addressing the relationship between future, present and past. To feel well, to feel vital, to feel alive, we need to be active, to be acting our future in the context of the present. In other words, always to be doing now what we want for the future, without the future being a separate place.

Everyone’s story is unique

I particularly like David Whyte’s idea that we are all unique – well of course we know that, but do we act that way? Do we look at all our relationships with people, with events, with places and even with things and see a unique story that is unfolding and interesting in itself?

Mindfulness as experiencing being present

Related is the concept of mindfulness – to be fully present in events, not to experience their beauty or their ghastliness (ghastliness is real) but to experience being present.

It is a hard concept for we psychologists!


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