People & Purpose Issue 8

Page 9

Another is the broaden-and-build theory, established by Barbara Fredrickson: “when you expose people to virtuous, positive emotions you tend to broaden their perspective. People can actually take in more information broadening and building.” This also buffers the organization against trauma: when they implement a variety of positive practices, especially positive leadership and institutionalizing virtuousness, the negative factors that almost always occur in downsizing tend to be diminished. Professor Cameron highlights some evidence-based interventions which have an impact on functioning including the fact that people who keep a gratitude journal are healthier and have higher levels of cognitive functioning, mental flexibility and creativity than their counterparts who keep regular diaries. People with contribution goals – e.g. I want to contribute, I want to make something better, I want to have something improve as the result of my efforts perform better than those who set themselves achievement goals.

Contribution is even more important than reward. “Most organizational reward systems are based on giving people stuff but as it turns out that much higher performance can be predicted if not only do you give people stuff but you give them the opportunity to contribute to somebody or something else” he adds. Cameron concludes by sharing tools developed to help organizations flourish, from ‘best-self feedback’ through a job-crafting exercise for increased meaning to ways of establishing the networks of quasars, the bright stars who have the potential to infect your organization with virtuousness and positivity. Kim S. Cameron is William Russell Kelly Professor of Management and Organization at Ross School of Business and Professor of Higher Education in the School of Education at the University of Michigan.

His current research focuses on the virtuousness of, and in, organizations and their relationships to organizational success. He is one of the cofounders of the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship at the University of Michigan

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