Being optimistic is not the most apparent quality of a co worker: we culturally prefer realist people, people that can evaluate the half both half empty and half full. In France, we tend to be a bit too much pessimistic and sarcastic
From my point of view, optimism is a key factor to success. Philippe Gabilliet magnificently demonstrated it (in french) for the ESCP students a few months ago. I strongly recommend you to watch this video.
If you are a manager, how to maintain in practice optimism ? Many team building games tend to support indirectly a good optimistic spirit. A strong team member can also influence the rest. But if you are stuck to an operational goal, optimism can be hard to put into practice. There is no recipe in this article, but some thoughts and approaches blabling.
Be optimistic yourself
Like any management task, you need to practice yourself. To be an example for others, to know what efforts you have to put in to change your mind. Successful business owners around us were all optimistic at the start of their business. Is it a source of inspiration for others, partners, coworkers and clients ? I don’t know but it works.
Recognize optimistic people and build your team with this in mind
If you put a team of skeptical together, you can be sure that they will spend most of their free time pointing out issues than actually innovating.
Remember that apparent optimism tend to decrease with age, but not in reality. Young workers are more subjects to excitement but also to delusion. There are some tests to detect optimistic people, but as you are a busy person working in a busy place, you should not be able to run any test like this.
So how ?
When you assist in a meeting, try to see if the participants are discussing solutions more than problems. See if they smile and are happy. If they avoid to take strong useless positions. Someone that you want to have as a boss. Usually a person able to take some risk is an optimistic one.
Then when you detected your key people with optimism in mind, build teams with at least one optimist in each.This will compensate the critics of the others and can become viral to some extend.
Bring meaning to the tasks
As often, the description of the mission team members seem not to be exciting. But any project can become strategic and important, it depends on the vision you bring to the project. The project can be innovative, vital to a company, strategic, an essential part of a larger program. If the reasons why everyone is working hard are gone, the motivation will mechanically go down. You will face more departures, and projects will start to get delivered late. It is natural. Instead of focusing on motivations and drivers, try to make them feel that the completion of the objectives will be done at all costs, and that it will be a great achievement.
Drop the management motivation effort for sense of achievement and self confidence towards the completion of the objectives.
A team must celebrate its milestones. If they don’t have such a culture, bring it to them. It can be a beer, a dinner in a restaurant … You’ll see that in a few rounds, they will celebrate with pleasure by themselves. This retrospective work is highly valuable, and always underestimated. At Inovia, we ensure that this philosophy is shared and understood by the managers.