How To Use Social Contagion to Spread Success

Updated 09/06/2021

Thinking that you are successful helps you to become successful

Everyone wants to be successful. What we each deem as success differs between individuals, but the desire is ubiquitous. In simple terms, to be successful, you need to learn what works and do more of it. There is evidence to suggest that thinking that you are successful helps you to become successful. As the use of visualisations and affirmations, a success mindset will help you to achieve your goals.
It is easy to get bogged down in a never-ending backlog of work, of missed deadlines, and feel defeated. Hopefully, the other techniques and ideas in this book have already helped with looking at your workload differently. This section will cover how to think positively about you, and your team’s achievements. Acknowledging that you have succeeded before and that you can again, improves self-belief and leads to a success mindset.

Create an environment where employees can share and celebrate success

In other posts we talked about breaking down your larger tasks into clearly defined work units. As well as all the benefits we covered then, there is also the added benefit of giving you more chance to notice small wins, giving you extra opportunities to celebrate success. We are driven by wanting to feel good, feel better and feel happier. If celebrating success makes you feel good, then you will desire that feeling again. Dopamine release on achieving something makes us feel good, so, we want more of it. Celebrate success with others, and they will want to celebrate their success with you. You need to recognise your accomplishments if you want others to. Teams get stronger as they learn more about each other. Working in silos, never sharing achievements, does not breed a culture of celebrating success. Employee recognition brings fulfilment and respecting other’s achievements improves self-esteem. Create an environment where employees can share and celebrate success. Praise from co-workers is essential not just management. More significant celebrations lead to a bigger effort and enhanced productivity. Sharing success is about telling your story. You should share the practical steps that led to the achievement. Think about how you overcame obstacles on the path to success. When sharing your story make sure you don’t come across as being arrogant. Try to do it as soon after the event as possible. Do it in public, so it impacts those around you. The feelings associated with success are passed onto others through emotional contagion.

Success spreads.

Expressing good news outwardly reinforces the good feelings inwardly. When acknowledging the success of your team, it doesn’t have to be a cash bonus. It may be a more regular thank you, or a special treat, or even non-monetary reward. An afternoon off, a meal out, new tech, lunch for the team, it can all be a valuable incentive. Just make sure to show your people that you value their efforts. You may also be able to bring an element of competition, either between teams or individuals. Witnessing the successes of others will inspire employees to step up to have victories of their own. Competition can improve productivity and staff morale. It also encourages collaboration, as people work together for the win. When you are excited about what you are doing, you are more productive. Always make sure that work is meaningful, meaningless work demotivates. Focussing on the strengths and accomplishments of your team leads to better well-being and productivity. Money alone is not enough to motivate people to be their best selves. People are paid to work, and some people will do an outstanding job, while others will do the bare minimum to get by. Praise and recognition of success are more important sometimes than financial compensation (although not many people will work for free, no matter how good your work environment!) Praise needs to be specific, sincere and consistent. Like having children, you can’t pick favourite members of staff. You need to treat everybody fairly, with the same expectations. Rather than just a “well done” or a “good job”, pick out aspects of their efforts that directly led to the success. It is possible to manage all of this on an ad hoc basis, recognising success when you see it. Another option is to have a clear employee incentive programme. Gift cards, special outings, or even just a beer at the end of the week, can be brought into a formal reward system. However, you do it doesn’t matter as long as you do recognise both your employees’ successes and your own.
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