Archives for 21 Apr,2016

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An Academic View of Best

viewDigging in to other research on Best

A slightly different tone for this post, we’ve had our academic heads on all week!  In the hopes of keeping this research update brief we’re just going to highlight a couple of pieces of research that have particularly influenced our thinking.

Initially we were quite overwhelmed by the range of subject matter that appears to link to when people are their best in work.  Of course one of the consistent things is the output or performance.  So here we share our reading list for the past few days.

What we have found interesting in our recent research is that there are elements of Internal Characteristics and Behaviours that are described within definitions and models.

In terms of the performance literature, behaviour is often described in terms of output or financial implications of performance

Griffen et al (2007) proposed a very helpful framework of performance in changing environments:

They suggested three key areas were involved:

  • Proficiency
  • Adaptivity
  • Proactivity

Another element of performing is that of stretch – or developing and growing to one’s Potential.

The Corporate Leadership Council conducted a review of the literature in this area and concluded three consistent areas for potential:

  • Ability
  • Aspiration
  • Engagement 

Here we can see something Internal, certainly in terms of aspiration and something Behavioural (in terms of their ability).

Totem Gummi Bears

Bakker and Demerouti’s Job Demands-Resources Model of Engagement highlights the role of Internal characteristics of Self Efficacy, Resilience, Optimism and Hope.  In this model there are also Behavioural characteristics of engagement as vigor, dedication and absorption.   Whilst Ferndale’s engagement review highlighted the difference between state engagement (the Internal)  and behavioural engagement.

In terms of the final area of Commitment, we have a range of researchers to draw on including Swailes Organisational Citizenship Behaviours.

An finally, an interesting paper by Meyer et al.  Here they suggest that commitment is one component of motivation which involves Internal characteristics often demonstrated in Behaviours.

What we’re currently thinking is that being at one’s best lies in the overlap of these concepts, so this is where we’re starting to conduct our research approach.

Does Best lie here?


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People at their Best

bestWhat do we really mean by People at their Best?

“When are you at your best?” It’s a question that often comes up in coaching.  So often it’s suspicious!

We find that the question helps to understand the behaviours and the feelings that individuals are experiencing and where the gaps might be in their current situation.

The goal of many of our development interventions is often stated as simply wanting to get the best from people.  But what does that mean?

Could a shared understanding of being at your best in work lead to faster identification of issues to resolve and more focused development interventions, whatever they may be?

As business psychologists, we like to keep up to date with the latest research and understand what can benefit our clients.   One of the areas that we have seen have great impact is the notion of working to strengths – first understanding them and then working out how to make the most of them.*

Jelly Bean Diversity

Certainly for Totem, understanding what each of us does well and gets a kick out of doing has really helped us allocate work more effectively and be more productive.  Yet there are still days when we’re not necessarily at our individual best – we all have those days, when we are distracted or just ‘not in the zone’.

Unpicking what we mean by being at our best will help us to quickly remedy distractions or other limitations.  This will be useful on an individual basis, in coaching or in designing development interventions for clients.

Our research* started with two questions – one that we ask our coaching clients quite regularly and one that is asked of us quite regularly:

When are you at your best?

How do I get the best from my people?

The consistency of the language and descriptions people use in describing best made us question if there is something underlying that – a shared meaning of what being at your best when at work encompasses.

If we can clarity and understand what we mean by being at your best – it becomes an accessible tool for management conversations and prioritising organisation’s development investments.

Keep checking back on our research, because we really feel this concept has got legs and we’re curious to see where it leads.


(*Addicott 2015)

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