Monsters Inc. – a classic and memorable children’s movie. Mike Wazowski and James P. Sullivan scare little children to create energy, during an apparent energy crisis, for their monster world. At one point a human child end up in the monster world stealing James P. Sullivan’s heart. Throughout the movie the monsters begin noticing that the child’s laughter generates much more energy than the child’s fear. In the end, the energy factory (Monster ’Inc.) begins collecting energy from laughter under Mr. Sullivan’s management. And the energy is coming in tenfold from laughter than it was from fear. The change in the workplace is undeniable.
Imagine that. The concept seems so simple. A workplace built on positivity can generate far greater results than one built on negativity. I think the folks at Pixar disguised a case study in a cartoon movie. Despite how simple the idea seems conceptually it is so, so complex. We are human after all.
Could you imagine, or maybe you currently are, spending the majority of your waking hours in a negative environment? One that is managed through fear and blame. Results are driven through threats and egocentric, passive-aggressive behavior. The company culture is ravaged with negative reinforcement. And like Monster Incorporated, it is accepted and propagated by the employees. An unwritten competition is built on who can create the most fear and generate the most negative energy to increase profits. The results are that employees experience fragments of joy wrapped in negative encouragement. A goal is reached, or project is complete exciting a team for a moment, but at what cost? Each evening the same people return home more miserable than the next.
I am reminded of a Forbes opinion piece I read a few years back on the importance of forging relationships and leading through positivity. My favorite quote in the article is, “The nature of work has changed in the past 50 years, but attitudes still haven’t caught up…There’s a culture clash with bright eyed bushytailed people coming in with the best intentions and they go into workplaces that are toxic. Unfortunately, what happens is that the workplaces break the person. They accept that this is how things are.” This is the opposite of any company goal. I bet the described culture won’t be found in a mission statement! Yet, time and time again companies experience elevated levels of turnover and can’t understand what is happening. The new employees are just soft I guess. Back to the grind. The reality is that it happens to all of us.
Without intentionally working on creating positivity, we wake up one day realizing we drank the Kool aid. We broke. We accepted that it’s how things are.