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Psychological Capital

12It’s a bit like hope, but with a purpose!

As part of our continued updates from our PhD studies, we’re exploring Psychological Capital or PsyCap, (which we really aren’t keen on as an abbreviation)  Psychological Capital is an umbrella term for the personal resources we have, specifically our self-efficacy, optimism, resilience and hope.

There’s a brilliant book about it which we’ve reviewed here.

These resources have been shown to help us engage with our work, develop a positive mind-set and deliver great performance.  Some have even gone as far as saying that it underpins the value in an organisation.  So making sure that we have each in abundance will make all the difference to our experience at work as well as our productivity.

So let’s take a look at those four factors individually:

Self-efficacy is a term that has been around in the academic literature for a while.  It’s about whether we believe that we are able to contribute and this has been shown to have a significant effect on our performance and the goals that we set ourselves.   It’s not about just telling ourselves we can do it – it’s about an honest evaluation and creating a plan to ensure that we are able to contribute.

Jelly Bean Diversity

Developing our self-efficacy is about listening to the conversations we have in our minds and the self-limiting beliefs we might hold, challenging them and taking action to ensure that they are eradicated.  So what are your personal limiting beliefs?  And how can they be challenged?

Optimism is another term that we’ve all come across.  As a part of our psychological capital, it represents our disposition and is not necessary linked to ability, but it has been linked to reduced stress and improved commitment and performance.  You can read more about Optimism here.

Hope – whilst optimism involves expecting a positive outcome, hope focuses on the actual execution of reaching goals, thus linking it performance and goal pursuit.  Individuals high in hope are likely to find a route to achieve their goals and adapt their route as it changes and challenges occur.  Three incredibly bright researchers named Luthans, Youssef and Avolio refer to two components of hope:

1) will-power (motivation) and

2) way-power (capacity to determine alternative methods to reach a goal).

Which is quite different from our day to day understanding of hope.  Without hope, the will to accept challenges is not present and the way to overcome those challenges will not be found.  Two more super clever researchers Peterson and Byron found that hopeful sales employees, mortgage brokers and management executives had higher job performances.

Totem Lollipops

Resilience – whilst the behaviour related to resilience could be described as persistence, resilience is a wider capacity found at a personal or emotional level.

Luthans described resilience as:

“a positive psychological capacity to rebound, to ‘bounce back’ from adversity, uncertainty, conflict, failure or even positive change, progress and increase responsibility”

This suggests that resilience produces a buffering effect whereby engagement is maintained despite burnout-inducing job demands.  It’s been demonstrated that there’s a link between resiliency and the performance of sales staff; finding a positive correlation with their adaptive selling behaviour.

And if you follow this link, we have a fair bit more to say on resilience!

Most importantly each of the components of Psychological Capital can be measured; can be developed over time and have a positive impact on performance.

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