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Feeling Good By Doing Good

Posted by Bret Simmons
Bret Simmons
My name is Bret L. Simmons I am passionate about leadership and management.
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 08 June 2011
in Management

Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) is a term used to describe discretionary behavior at work where an employee goes above and beyond what’s written in their job description to either help other coworkers or to help the organization. The evidence shows that engagement, empowerment, and leading by example all produce more citizenship behavior from employees. You want your employees to be good citizens, because this extra effort at the individual level aggregates to enhanced performance of your business.

A new study published in Personnel Psychology (full citation below) suggests another reason to promote OCB at work – it can help your employees display a more positive mood. This unique study equipped 68 employees with mobile devices and cued them twice a day for 29 days to answer questions about their behaviors and moods. The helping behaviors examined in this study were altruism (e.g. helped someone from outside my workgroup, cooperatively worked with others) and courtesy (e.g. checked with others before doing something that would affect their work, taken steps to prevent problems with other workers).

The study found that when workers reported a negative mood and then engaged in altruistic helping behaviors, their mood became more positive. This effect was particularly strong for individuals high in extroversion. Courtesy behaviors also produced positive moods, but the results were somewhat mixed and not as strong as were the results for altruistic behaviors. According to the authors:

If indeed, “doing good” leads to “feeling good,” then organizations may consider feeling good an additional benefit to engaging in helping, which is often organizationally encouraged through mechanisms such as mentoring, participation in volunteer efforts, or team coaching. Expansion of such organizational practices, often designed with primarily employee development objectives important to the organization, may also reap unexpected benefits in terms of regulating individual mood. (p. 214).

So the next time you find yourself in a bad mood at work, consider getting up and helping someone with their work. Not only will it enhance productivity and your own social capital, it might also make you feel better! If you witness your employees in a down mood, find ways to get them helping others, or invite them to spend a little time helping you with something you are working on.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

Full citation: Glomb, T.M. et al. (2011). Doing good, feeling good: Examining the role of organizational citizenship behavior in changing mood. Personnel Psychology, 64: 191-223.

My name is Bret L. Simmons

I am passionate about leadership and management. My purpose is “to change your mind about the value of partnering with others to build healthy, responsible organizations where everyone can thrive.” I try to keep everything I do — training, speaking, teaching, research — consistent with my purpose.

My Ph.D. is in Management from Oklahoma State University. I am currently on the faculty of the College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno. I provide corporate training designed to improve the practice of leadership and management at work, and I am available to speak to your group on these topics. I teach undergraduate and MBA courses in Organizational Behavior, Leadership, Entrepreneurial Psychology, and Research Methods. My research on employee attitudes, personality, performance, and health is published in a number of peer-reviewed journals and books. My vita will provide you with a more complete description of my qualifications and accomplishments.

I appreciate your interest in my work and hope you find something of value as you explore my site. I invite you to take some time to read my blog, where you will find my systematic thinking on leadership and management at work. Please feel free to leave your comments to any issues that interest you. There is no “formula” to leadership at work, so whether you agree or disagree with what I write in my blog, I value your opinion and invite you to leave a comment. My recommended reading section will provide you with a list of books I have found very helpful in developing my thoughts on leadership.

Sign-up for my newsletter and I will provide you a monthly summary of the highlights of my blog as well as other valuable insights on leadership. If you are on my e-mail list, you are welcome to ask me questions that I will address either in a personal reply or through my blog.

My employee research and pro-bono speaking is done wearing my hat as a university professor. I do my corporate training on leadership and organizational development through my company, Sierra Management Research, Inc. My entrepreneurial activities are done through my other company, Metanoia, LLC.

If you find something on my site that resonates with you and you want to learn more about how I might be able to help with what you are doing, please don’t hesitate to contact me. http://www.bretlsimmons.com/


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