Is your New Year’s Resolution to create a healthier working team in 2014? If so, you are in good company based on studies that show productive teams are capable of turning businesses around. The challenge: how do you build or reshape a team to be successful in today’s fast paced environment? To discover how, I secured a rare interview with the knowledgeable Dr. Michael Cofield, Diplomate in Clinical Health Psychology with the American Board of Professional Psychology. Highlights that introduce the Losada Ratio and related, successful strategies follow:
Q: What is the “Losada Line” and how can it be a strategic tool for work teams?
Dr. Cofield: The Losada ratio was developed by a well-known organizational psychologist, Dr. Marcial Losada. He studied over fifty companies, utilizing verbatim transcripts of strategic planning meetings. He discovered that the most successful companies have a predictable three to one ratio of positive to negative interactions between team members. That is, for every critical interaction, there needs to be at least three positive ones in order to offset the negativity. Companies that fell below 3:1 P/N (positive/negative ratio) were shown to function much more poorly in terms of productivity and profit. Thus, increasing a company’s P/N can yield huge benefits.
Q: What types of advantages can work teams that fall within the optimum zone deliver to their business and organizations?
Dr. Cofield: Well, one example is a mining company that Losada’s group worked with and reported on. The company was losing a significant degree of productivity and profit every month. However, once some relatively simple “P/N” strategies were implemented amongst the managers, they saw a 40% increase in productivity at the end of the year. The company’s CEO wrote an extremely grateful letter praising the organizational intervention efforts and giving them great credit for essentially turning the company’s productivity around.
Q: As far as strategies and tips go, what are one to two good ones that work teams can use immediately to get closer to the optimum ratio, and will stand the test of time?
Dr. Cofield: One technique that has been utilized is the implementation of an “E-ppreciation” strategy. Each team member is asked to write a very brief message of appreciation to a different team member on a daily basis, or at least three times per week.
Secondly, a very effective communication strategy known as “DPR” or Dynamic Positive Responding, teaches team members and supervisors how to “celebrate” good news, rather than focusing exclusively on negative input.
Q: Before we wrap up, what is a good resource that working teams can use to monitor when they want to gain more insight in this area or monitor what is on the horizon?
Dr. Cofield: One excellent website is “AuthenticHappiness.com”. It contains a variety of self-assessment tools free of charge. They measure such success-related workplace attributes as personal optimism and “grit” or the tendency to “stick to it” on the job, regardless of the challenges.
Next Step: Do you have a team that can benefit from one of these techniques? If so, have the team report progress, within the first two months of their effort to keep the momentum going