Cycle of positive interaction in Finland

The Tekes Liideri – Business, Productivity and Joy at Work Programme has an ambitious goal: it wants Finland to have Europe’s best workplaces in 2020. Merja Fischer, who chairs the management team, has a vision of how to reach this target.

In her 2012 doctoral dissertation, Merja Fischer, D.Sc. (Technology) and executive coach, demonstrated that job satisfaction reflects directly on the customer’s perceived quality of service and subsequently on business profitability. This is a very important issue from the business standpoint.

Many factors contribute to the personnel experience, but Fischer highlights one key theme – everyone wants to be seen and heard. This requires positive interaction: appreciation and gratitude.
According to Merja Fischer, the chain of positive interaction starts with good leadership, which employees pass on to each other and their customers. ”Emotional energy is transmitted in chains of encounters.”

Leadership that appreciates the individual can be seen in results.

Merja Fischer has served as a manager in several large companies, and she believes that change starts with leadership development. This means a renewal of the traditional authoritarian leadership culture.

“We have to create a work environment in which people don’t need to be afraid of failing. Learning, creativity and innovativeness, which are important factors in productivity, are physiological events. At these times, new nerve cell connections are created, a phenomenon that is possible when a person experiences positive emotions. This is the reason why people under-perform in an atmosphere of fear,” outlines Fischer. “Positive emotions enhance well-being and personal resources.”

A good and modern manager appreciates everyone and also shows this. “Regardless of their job, everyone should feel that they are an important part of the organisational system and understand their role as part of the organisation's targets. Motivation increases when a person perceives his/her work as important and challenging. A good manager also helps, thanks, accompanies and understands what motivates the employee, and is easy to approach. This kind of genuine caring has a direct reflection on business."

Everyone is responsible for their own behaviour

Fischer says that while supervisors play an important role in both initiating the interaction chain and as a role model, but this is not enough. “Every individual is responsible for him/herself and for how they encounter and appreciate others.”

According to Fischer, the workday also has to include quiet moments. “Supervisors have to reserve time for sitting down and meeting their colleagues.”

At best, an atmosphere of trust and appreciation in the work community can lead to new business, productivity and joy at work. “Even change situations are easier to handle when decisions are based on respect for the individual and openness."

Merja Fischer chairs the Working life in the future thematic group in the Government Foresight Report. Her views extend to the Finnish level. “Healthy individuals and work communities create a positive cycle for the entire nation. This increases profitable business and Finnish competitiveness.”

Text: Leena-Mari Tanskanen

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