Working with positive people makes a job more enjoyable. New research now finds that a manager or leader’s positive energy directly improves productivity, absenteeism, and commitment.
University of Michigan researchers also found that people who work with positive energy leaders also do more work outside their official roles, and have more satisfying family lives.
In the new study, Kim Cameron and Wayne Baker and colleagues Brad Owens of Brigham Young University and Dana Sumpter of California State University, Long Beach studied relational energy. This is the energy you get when you interact with people who make you feel good when you spend time with them.
The researchers used surveys and field studies to document how this energy works and the effect it has on organizations.
They found that the more relational energy a leader exudes, the better employees on that team perform in terms of productivity, absenteeism, engagement, and job retention.
The positive culture also appears to influence overall life quality as employees also are more likely to help each other and volunteer for tasks outside their job description.
“Managers spend so much time managing information and influence,” said Cameron. “But relational energy trumps both of those by a factor of four as an outcome determiner.”
A related study by Cameron, Baker, and their co-authors found that people who experience relational energy at work have better home lives as well.
“There’s a spillover from relational energy at work to the home, said Baker. “When we interact with people, some buoy us up and others bring us down. When you’re buoyed up you tend to bring that home.”
Relational energy is different from charisma or personality, said Cameron and Baker. Being an extrovert isn’t necessary. It’s simply the way people feel after you interact with them.
The research uncovers a cost-free way leaders can improve results and loyalty, and create a positive work environment. The key is finding the centers of energy in the company.
“Early in our research, we’d meet leaders who knew something was wrong, but they couldn’t put their finger on it,” Baker said.
“Now they can do a relational energy survey, draw an energy map, and show the bright parts of their organization and the black holes. It’s hard to figure out what’s going on until they see a map. It’s like seeing an X-ray.”
Cameron says there’s a need for companies to recognize relational energy and find ways to make it work for them.
“Do people get promoted or hired because they’re a positive energizer? No, it’s not even on the agenda,” Cameron said. “So here’s a resource that’s been ignored but is a major predictor of performance.”
Source: University of Michigan