Its a well know fact thaty positivity and negativity are powerful feedback processes in human behavior. A powerful indicator of what is possible for an organization is the positivity/negativity ratio of feedback; that is, how many instances of positive vs. negative feedback we can observe in a human interaction process, such as a team meeting or in a couple's conversation.
In organizations where this ratio is greater than 5:1, there's greater engagement and productivity. Why can't we start keeping individual scores and make that a KPI?
Who doesn't want to be on a team that exudes positivity?
There is just too much toxicity in the workplace today. While there's so much good happening, feedback and conversations always veer toward what isn't there!
As a result, employees feel worthless and not appreciated for the work that they do. Engagement is a big issue today and organizations like Gallup spend a lot of time working with organizations to help raise employee engagement.
Its pretty straightforward - A workplace buzzing with positivity is likely to be more creative, innovative and productive than one weighed down by criticism and all things nasty! Problem is that most organizations are more like the latter than the former.
Start tracking every single interaction in the workplace, or get as close to it as possible. Have every manager in the organization spend 10 minutes at the end of every day rating every person he had an interaction with that day, on a simple scale.
Was it positive? (An interaction that left him / her feeling better and energized)
Was it negative? (An interaction that left him / her feeling worse and drained)
At the end of the week, you would have aggregated scores for all the managers in the organization. Now that makes things very interesting.
You could look at that data by manager and by department. You could start to see correlations between performance and the Gottman score. You might even have a really strong case to make Gottman score a KPI for every manager in the organization once you have established the impact on other metrics like attrition, absenteeism etc.
"What gets measured, gets done" - Anonymous
Once people start getting measured and there's a published Gottman score, managers will start to be more self-regulating (a key component of Goleman's EI). Careless comments that hurt employees and humiliate co-workers will reduce and gradually become sporadic, once-in-a-bluemoon events.
Once people become aware of the toxicity of their actions, they will begin to reform themselves. No one will want to have the lowest Gottman score in the organization. There would be a conscious effort to move from animosity and aggression to win-win and accomodation.
A Gottman score would also increase the visibility of the real organizational saviors - the genuine mentor coaches, the team players, the collaborators etc. across the organization that are truly passionate about the organization's mission and values and give it their all day in, day out.
1. The most toxic managers in the organization will resist it! They will do everything possible to quash it. To make sure it does not take off. They want to remain the way they are, and continue to unleash negativity and venom in the organization.
2. Toxic senior managers might argue that they lose effectiveness when they concern themselves with being 'nice'. This however isn't about being nice. It is about being effective in a positive way. It is about win-win.
3. Measuring the score requires discipline. Managers throughout the organization will need to sit down at the end of the day and spend 5-10 minutes assigning a rating to all the people they interacted with during the course of the day. This discipline will take time and determination and senior management committment to build.
4. The Gottman scores can be gamed. Toxic managers could game the system and try and get 'good' scores by being artificial or then by threatening direct reports to rate them favorably.
1. Start with Senior Management. Have them put themselves out there and share their committment to make the organization a more positive place. Each of them my commit to reaching a 5-positive-for-every-negative Gottman score.
2. Encourage people to start rating every day. Keep scores confidential initially and only reward the ones with high scores.
3. If people aren't rating at the end of the day, require them to fill in ratings first thing in the morning before they can access their email!
4. Build momentum by publicly acknowledging leaders with the Top 5 Gottman scores in the organization.
5. Start to collect departmental level data and build a compelling data-based case for the peformance linkages with higher Gottman scores.
6. Document and build case studies to make this an established way of waorking across the industry.
7. Get published in the Harvard Business Review so that the whole world knows about the benefits of this simple but powerful ratio.
Raynah Remedios - My wife's Gottman score is like 20:1, and she manages this despite me and three boys under the age of 6!
How Full is Your Bucket - Rath & Clifton
My former team at Hindustan Unilever - We just had a reunion after 5 years, and every single one attended. I think it had a lot to do with the fact that we took out Gottman ratios very seriously. Aswath, Sandeep, Deepali, Sairam, Shankar, Chanakya, Shashwat and Geeta.