I went to a local networking event last night, mainly because I’d heard the speaker before and liked his style. Damian Hughes (www.liquidthinker.com) has quite a CV, straddling the worlds of sport and business. His presentations are chock full of anecdotes and examples drawn from both domains.
One of the researchers he cites is John Gottman, who has the uncanny knack of predicting with astonishing accuracy whether relationships will survive from watching a brief interview with the couple. He found evidence to show that a minimum ratio of 5:1 postive to negative statements were critical in building a successful relationship. For couples whose marriages ended in divorce, the ratio was a meagre 0.8:1. Incidentally, this kind of positive vs negative statements ratio is vital for raising children with a healthy level of self-esteem. See his brief explanation at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xw9SE315GtA
Managers could learn a lot from these figures to build successful, well-functioning teams. Ken Blanchard has a graphic metaphor:
“He said most managers bottle up their feedback until something goes wrong. He called it seagull management–they fly in, make a lot of noise, dump on everyone, and fly out. So he challenged managers to stop storing up their comments and proposed a specific way to shrink the change: He said, Concentrate on catching your employees doing something right–and then reinforce it with immediate, specific praise. He called it One-Minute Praisings.” Dan Heath http://www.fastcompany.com/video/switch-shrink-the-change-1
This more positive approach is the basis of Appreciative Inquiry developed by David Cooperrider and colleagues in the 1980s. Instead of signing up to the seagull school of management, it’s much healther for relationships if managers follow the principle of asking their team, ‘What’s working? What’s going well? When are we at our best?’