Making positive work connections lifts more than mood

May 16, 2014 by Greta Guest

(Phys.org) —Ever feel energized and confident to take on a challenge after an interaction with a co-worker?

That feeling is real, the benefits are real, and companies need to do more to create these high-quality connections, says Jane Dutton, the Robert L. Kahn Distinguished Professor of Business Administration and Psychology at the University of Michigan.

Her research shows that interacting with others in ways that foster high-quality connections at work does more than improve morale. It improves creativity, commitment, learning and engagement. Organizations that figure out how to foster these bring out the best in their teams and achieve better results.

"These short, momentary interactions with people at work are like vitamins—they strengthen and fortify you throughout your day," Dutton said. "The good news is that these connections don't take a lot of time to build. They happen quickly, and small gestures pay big dividends."

Dutton shares results of the research today at the inaugural Positive Business Conference at the Michigan Ross School of Business.

The three-day conference brings together more than 300 business professionals, academics, students and industry leaders to collaborate on the latest positive thinking, best practices and implementation tools. It features executives from Whole Foods Market, Ford Motor Co. and Procter & Gamble.

Business leaders need to make high-quality connections themselves, and create a system so they happen for others. Dutton says it's time the corporate world takes seriously what the evidence shows—these connections bring out the individual and collective best.

"Leaders set the tone in terms of values and priorities," Dutton said. "If they tap into the power of high-quality connections, others will see this as important and something to be valued."

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