What do we do with this new found information?
Having set out to explore the shared meaning of being at one’s best at work* and developed a confident framework to describe it, let’s consider the implications of the this new understanding.
We’ll take a look at a number of workplace applications we can put this framework to work in. Knowing that being at one’s best involves both positive subjective states and positive behavioural patterns, the workplace environment needs to acknowledge and address both of these aspects of the individual.
Our research* into positive workplaces identified a range of characteristics that are linked to the framework and are reflected in the frameworks themes yet there was no clear definition of a positive workplace. So perhaps the framework could help to provide some structure to that definition?
One where people feel positive about their job, themselves and their colleagues and they are demonstrating behaviours related to achieving, supporting and interacting?
Organisations wishing to develop a positive workplace will therefore need to attend to the structure of the work and the relationships surrounding it. They will need to ensure that the work is structured in a way that provides opportunity for individuals to demonstrate the positive behavioural patterns of the framework.
Whilst achieving the goals of the work and organisation are often the rationale for the workplace structures, in order to develop a positive workplace there also needs to be more interaction between individuals and opportunities for them to be able to support each other in developing the goals.
Creating interaction with ‘customers’ is perhaps more difficult in back office environments however even in these circumstances internal colleagues are benefiting from the work completed so could be seen as internal customers. There’s a clear rationale for greater interaction and communication within teams and between teams.
There are also implications for people management practices. The framework highlights the importance of both behaviours and subjective states. People management practices often focus on the output of the individual – their achievements. Competency assessments of individuals focus on the achievements through behaviours. Whilst achieving behaviours are a key element of being at one’s best in work they remain just a single part of the framework.
Acknowledging the importance of supporting and interacting behaviours are also vital alongside attending to the personal subjective states of individuals. If these become part of the recognised and prioritised actions of the workforce then there is likely to be less silo working and more collaboration. The additional focus on attending to individual’s subjective states is likely to demand even more interpersonal skill from managers.
The support they will require in being able to handle the complexities of emotions in the workplace also becomes important. The framework however could act as a diagnostic for when individuals are not at their best and this will help to prioritise appropriate interventions.
Whilst the organisation and managers need to encourage a positive workplace by attending to both subjective states and behavioural patterns, the responsibility for being at one’s best however must also lie with the individuals.
Personal awareness and development needs to attend to both subjective states and behaviours. By structuring learning and development interventions to provide insight and development in terms of the subjective states and the behavioural patterns of the framework, greater improvements to the workplace and to performance are likely to be seen.
How organisations plan and recruit for future needs is also impacted. Traditional competency assessments purely focus upon the achievements whereas the supporting and interacting behaviours are also necessary to evidence. Investigating the subjective states of individuals will also give an indication of how likely one is to see the individual at their best.
The understanding of being at one’s best that the framework provides has clear implications for individuals and organisations. Understanding is the starting point, what is done with that understanding is likely to make the difference between simply being “OK” at work and being at one’s best in work.