Tom Rath, a senior scientist and advisor to Gallup as well as a bestselling author, addressed attendees during Friday morning’s General Session during NAHC’s Annual Meeting & Exposition which concluded earlier this week. Rath, one of the most influential authors of the last decade, has a new book, Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes, which is already receiving critical acclaim as a “transformative work.”
During the General Session, Mr. Rath focused on ways to improve the workplace environment, become a more effective leader, and live a healthier life. “The conventional wisdom is wrong. You can’t be anything you want to be. But you can be a lot more than you are,” said Rath during his presentation. “The key for you and for people you lead is to step back and reflect on your talents. Reflect on your talents and commit them to the people you serve.”
Mr. Rath’s advice emphasized focusing on positive – rather than negative – interactions throughout the day. Specifically, in a work environment, people should have three positive interactions between colleagues and managers for every one negative one. According to his research, if this ratio diminishes, then so does productivity. Conversely, Mr. Rath explained that focusing on positive interactions can actually improve productivity and overall workplace satisfaction. Said Mr. Rath, “Focusing on what people do well and trying to bring that out could be the best investment you make.”
In emphasizing the importance of positive interactions, Tom Rath also shared data on the importance of relationships and interactions both at work and in a person’s life more generally. From a manager’s perspective, being engaged, available, and positive makes a tremendous difference in workplace satisfaction and productivity. “The phrase ‘my boss is killing me’ may turn out to be true. A bad work environment creates enormous stress in the body. The quality of your manager is as important as the quality of your physician for your health.”
Being an effective leader is important, and Mr. Rath offered tips on how to be a better leader and a better manager, “what can you do to help people follow your lead? Trust, caring, stability, hope,” he said.
Positive work environments – both from the manager’s perspective as well as the worker’s perspective – hinges on a person’s individual’s health and well-being. “My challenge for you today is to put your own health first every day. You have to put yourself first to have the energy to serve the people you love,” said Rath. “It’s important to think about eating, sleeping, and exercising in a more integrated way. Wellbeing is a contribution we make to our families and communities that continues to live on after we’re gone.”