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The Good, The Bad…and The Productive

Posted by
10 Jul 2014

In a recent article, it was reported that studies have shown having a sunny disposition at work actually makes people less productive. I was quite surprised to read this initially as this statement goes against the natural assumption that happy workers make the best workers.

Many companies, Sellick Partnership included, invest huge amounts of time and money into boosting morale and encouraging close working relationships; team building weekends, weekly socials and multi-tiered interviewing processes all work towards recruiting the right people and creating a cohesive and profitable team.

Perhaps these efforts are not only misguided, they actually do more harm than good?

The theory in the article supposes that positive and upbeat people will be more likely to get involved with several different activities and therefore become 'jacks of all trades'. Conversely, their more despondent colleagues will tend to focus in on a limited range of activities and will perfect their technique, becoming experts in those areas.

Presumably, despondent employees also care little about being popular with their colleagues. Therefore, they are less likely to volunteer their time to assist others and can devote all of their time to the tasks in hand.

It's an interesting theory and, if viewed pragmatically, seems to be based on sound logic; negative energy converts into dogged determination and a lack of social interest at work results in fewer distractions.

But in practice, what is this person like to work with?

From a personal perspective, I think most would say they would prefer a pleasant yet unfocused colleague as opposed to a team of surly experts! These workers may be deemed to be productive, but it is unlikely that their negativity will increase retention of other staff.

The theory also fails to take account of 'team productivity' versus that of an individual.

I believe there are three ways to identify the workload within any team. The first two are clearly defined; work which is your personal responsibility and work which is the responsibility of your colleagues. The third category covers anything which is not anticipated and therefore cannot be planned, for example new urgent business, unusual queries, last minute cancellations and complaints to name a few.

In order to deal with these things, it is essential that your team have a supportive and willing work ethic.

It's all very well having a team of employees completely focused on their individual workload but this falls down as soon as anything out of the ordinary happens that requires a positive and collaborative approach.

The way a team performs when faced with adversity is a big indicator of a company's strength and a lacklustre response can be very damaging for a company overall; good service is appreciated whilst poor service is never forgotten and much publicised!

Who do you prefer working with; someone completely focused on their own work or a team-player who is involved in every project? Please leave your thoughts and experiences below.

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