Psychological Capital, an Opportunity to Enhance
As we slowly return to the normality we used to know pre Covid, the news we are hearing is often ambiguous but sometimes hopeful. With this, many people will be returning to the office over the coming months. Although some will welcome this others will be reluctant for various reasons, however, for leaders it is an opportunity to review one of the most important factors in employee wellbeing as well as performance, Psychological Capital.
Psychological Capital refers in broad terms to someone’s overall state of mind. The biggest influences for individuals within an organisation are the environment in which the work, professional relationships and communication. These factors when prioritised by management help to create a workplace that influences the four key traits of people with positive mind-sets:
Each one of these factors are interlinked and also promote the development of an individual’s capacity to excel in their work. The return to the workplace is an opportunity to begin a fresh start and create renewed organisational cultures based on the lessons learned over the past 18 months. Looking at each of these component in more details will allow leaders to implement strategies to facilitate their employees to develop each one.
Hope is the ability to identify and pursue goals in life. Without hope, we would be unable to find the motivation to take on new challenges and develop ourselves either personally or professionally. People who have hope will not only take on challenges but will also be a positive influence on the people around them through their attitude and behaviour. If you think of anyone that you might admire, one of the key traits that they will have is the ability to remain motivated in the face of challenges and persevere to reach their goals.
Hope within an organisation can easily be extinguished through its silent culture, the culture that’s not spoken about but is predominantly a negative mindset often driven by those who have experienced setbacks and are unable to overcome them. To encourage as many people as possible to adopt the philosophy of hope, success needs to be both facilitated and celebrated.
Hope and optimism are intrinsically linked however the difference between them is that hope allows us to persevere through challenges, while optimism is the mindset that there is a high probability of success. Although succinct in their difference being optimistic means that despite sometimes not being able to see how you might overcome challenges, you can trust in your own abilities as well as the support of those around you and that you will most likely succeed.
Many people dismiss optimism as naiveté and prefer to adopt a more realistic approach to life, I believe that optimism when it is harnessed through experience and support can have a huge impact and increase the chances of employees experiencing positive outcomes in their work.
Resilience is the ability to keep going through the inevitable ups and downs of life. It is inevitable that the setbacks we experience in our personal lives will have a negative effect on all aspects of our lives. The same is true of the setbacks we experience at work. It can be very challenging to bounce back from some of the setbacks we experience in life, however when we do we tend to come back stronger and more resilient than before.
However it can be difficult to gauge the effect that a setback has on each individual, some might bounce back more quickly than others depending on their perspective and the value they placed on a positive outcome that didn’t happen for them. In this situation, it’s the empathic response from management and colleagues that can help someone overcome a difficult setback. We often dismiss or belittle someone’s experience unintentionally because we do not feel the magnitude of the other person’s disappointment. Taking the time to understand someone else’s perspective can help them not only overcome but also learn from difficult experiences.
Confidence is the return on investment in developing hope, optimism and resilience. Employees who feel confident do so through their own attitude and behaviours but also through the organisational culture that they experience every day. Confident employees will inevitably have a positive impact on the overall culture, but they will also become more efficacious and driven which will have far-reaching positive consequences for the organisation.
The not too distant return to the office can be an opportunity to allow many employers to develop a strategy to promote psychological capital and support employees through this perspective to develop and grow to be the best they can be.