Positive Organisation Behaviour and Hope

Posted in Human Resources Articles, Total Reads: 814 , Published on 12 November 2015

“Employees don’t necessarily quit their jobs because of the company, but rather because of their direct manager” - Buckingham & Coffman

The emphasis on “Positive Organisation Behaviour” (here after referred as POB) is increasing in today’s scenario. There has been a shift from the attention to the bottom line of an organisation to the human, social and positive psychological capital as a source of productivity and competitive advantage. As per the empirical studies POB practices have shown to produce desirable changes in the organisation performance and effectiveness. Though sometimes accused of potentially restrictive connotation and value bias the term “positive” is gaining importance in organisation studies. In this assignment I have analysed POB and Hope with the help of several literature review and qualitative interview of few people.

Fred Luthans (2002) defines POB as “the study and application of positively oriented human resource strengths and psychological capacities that can be measured, developed, and effectively managed for performance improvement in today’s workplace”. It’s a non-traditional and emotional strategic issue for an organisation.

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It’s about relating the environment and the organisation to create synergy and thus motivate people to work for the welfare of the organisation.

There are two connotations to POB

• Extraordinary positive outcomes or positive deviant performance

• Affirmative bias i.e. on strength, capabilities and possibilities rather than problems, threat and weakness

As per a study (Effects of Positive Practices on Organizational Effectiveness), POB does affect the six dimensions of virtuousness namely compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, trustworthiness, optimism and integrity and there exist positive correlation between virtuousness and organisation performance. Also there exists a negative correlation between POB and employee voluntary turnover.


POB and hope is about identifying and emphasizing strengths of the employees. There exists a downward spiral of negativity, biases, and prejudice in organisations. Hope gives the confidence to come out of the loop and promote work motivation, job attitude and organisational leadership. A wide variety of positively oriented high-performance work practices in placement, compensation, and motivation and their underlying strategies, structures, and cultures contribute to organizational performance and competitiveness.

Hope improves self-efficacy of individuals in an organisation. As per Stajkovic & Luthans, 1998, ‘Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s conviction (or confidence) about his or her abilities to mobilize the motivation, cognitive resources, and courses of action needed to successfully execute a specific task within a given context’. Hope is a stable positive psychological valuable trait for development and improvement of the employees in the organisation.

POB is about developing an emotional agility among the employees to manage one’s thoughts and feelings is essential to business success. Numerous studies, from the University of London professor Frank Bond and others, show that emotional agility can help people alleviate stress, reduce errors, become more innovative, and improve job performance.


Criticism – “All that glitters is not gold”

As per Albert Einstein “The true laws cannot be linear nor can they be derived from such.” Due to POB employees of the organisation classify issues into regular and expected and have a well learned response for the same – biased character of POB. Overconfidence can hinder performance, unrealistic optimism can lead to evasion of responsibility and false hope can lead to poor allocation of resources and energies toward ineffective goals, to the detriment of both the individual and the organization.

There are examples of confirmatory bias which shows that POB results into a negative outcome. People with high self-esteem end up being narcissistic hindering relationships. It may also lead to high degree of anxiety and stress and hence lower performance. High hopes can lead to unrealistically ambitious task for the available time and thus undermine individual and organisation performance. Compared with anxious individuals who do not use defensive pessimism, defensive pessimists show significant increases in self-esteem and satisfaction over time, perform better academically, form more supportive friendship networks, and make more progress on personal goals. This clarifies the positive power of pessimism.

Change is something which is constant in today’s world. It’s a phenomenon of time. Thus, events which appear something tend to turn into something else. As per Lewin(1951) there are three stages of change – unfreeze, change and refreeze. Acting as per few empirical tests and theoretical propositions repeated does not always guarantee a fruitful result. Every event has its own entropy and unpredictability. One size does not fit all. Thus, HOPE which instils the notion of treating all events equivalent might result into dismay.

Too much POB and Hope makes an organisation forget about its weaknesses and thus during crisis judgement calls become difficult. Sometimes it may lead to complacency and thus failure. As per “Sensemaking – Framing the action in unknown” leaders should figure out a change and act accordingly. It involves coming up with plausible understandings and meanings, testing them with others and then refining our understandings or abandoning them in favour of new ones that better explain a shifting reality. Using an old map as a guiding factor might land us to trouble. It should be used a reference along with sensemaking.

Interview Analysis

As per the interviews conducted happiness has three components namely, pleasant life, engaged life and meaningful life. Same is being used to create a POB. Leaders makes sure so that employees have a job fit (as per the control under him/her). They try and leverage on their strength and makes sure they are enjoying their work. They try to make them feel they are a part of something that matters.

According to them leaders should be either stoic or cheerful; they must project confidence and damp down any negativity bubbling up inside the employees. People get hooked to negativity and treat them as facts. The work of a leader is to help his followers come out of it. He says the act of asking, listening and empathising has helped them do this at times. It’s about connecting with people and inspiring them to do their best. They emphasized that empathising does not mean excusing poor performance but it’s about acknowledging their setbacks and motivate improved performance.

The ethical meltdown among leaders (as per the interview) to gain the maximum out of the employees working under him can be overcome by POB. Higher an individual’s self-evaluation the more positive is a person and hence higher is the motivation which triggers higher performance and satisfaction except sometimes when the outcomes are undesirable. Leaders strive to create a great organisation where people want to work or be engaged. Celebrating events, respecting individuals, providing them adequate resources and opportunities all help in developing a positive psychology and creating the best place to work at.

Interviews have shown places where POB and hope is instilled there has been an overall impact on multiple performance outcomes in the workplace, lower employee absenteeism, less employee cynicism and intentions to quit, and higher job satisfaction and commitment. People with high hopes have shown to have the will and ways to achieve the goals. Those with high hopes had greater number of alternatives when given an adverse scenario than the people with low hopes.

A goal component of hope theory was also found where leaders set goal in sync with the employees hope and thus achieves the highest level of commitment from them. There is a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) goal setting tactic being followed by most of the leaders.

Recent Trends

There has been recent trend of measuring leadership hope, agency orientation of high hope leaders and subordinate satisfaction and retention and unit level performance in organisations. Hope index of CEO’s has also come up in recent trends. Surveys like Gallup-HOPE Index (which is used by America), Goals-Scale and State Hope Scale can be used in organisation to identify, capture and empower the employees of the organisation. An atmosphere of long term sustained energy need to be cultivated within the organisation. Hope and Employees should be treated as the psychological capital of the organisation as per Susan David is a founder of the Harvard/McLean Institute of Coaching and faculty at Harvard.


POB as per study is still in its empirical stage and in many cases has been observed impacting performance. Apart from its criticism the goal of an organisation should be to inculcate “hope” as a part of the integrated framework in the organisation. Only instilling the trait does not suffice but valid and reliable measurement should also be made. A problem which is faced in general is accurate, objective and comprehensive measurement of performance and performance change. Hope as a part of Psychological Capital (PsyCap) is about persevering toward goals and, when necessary, redirecting paths to goals in order to succeed. Overall in most of the cases it has helped individuals and organisations to succeed and achieve their goal.

This article has been authored by Vikash Jalan from IIM Rohtak


• The need for and meaning of POB – Fred Luthans

• Luthans, F., Avolio, B.J., & Youseff, C. (2007). Psychological Capital: Developing the Human Competitive Edge. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press

• One minute manager – Ken Blanchard

• The Relationship of CEO's and Top Leadership Teams' George, 2004

• Dutton & Glynn, 2007; Harter, Schmidt, & Keyes, 2002; Spreitzer, Sutcliffe, Dutton, Sonenshein, & Grant, 2005

• Avolio, B.J., & Luthans, F. (2006). High impact leader: Moments matter in authentic leadership development. New York: McGraw-Hill

• Psychological capital: Internal and external validity of the Psychological Capital Questionnaire (PCQ-24) on a South African sample - Gina Görgens-Ekermans, Marthine Herbert


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