Traditionally, we associate deviance with negative behaviour or even delinquents. However, deviance is simply describing something that deviates from what is considered normal. Positive deviance therefor is something that falls outside our normal expectations… in a positive way, often benefiting both individuals and organisations.
Gretchen Spreitzer, clinical Professor of management and organisations, defines positive deviance as “intentional behaviours that significantly depart from the norms of a referent group in honourable ways”.
To foster positive deviance within your organisation, begin by asking unscripted questions like “How could I create an environment where staff feel empowered to learn and try new things?” or “How could we demonstrate more care and compassion to our clients” or “How can we make a difference in our local community?” These questions change the way we think and begin to shape what’s possible.
If you want to improve any workplace it takes energy and effort. Positive deviants relish elevating others and are incredibly creative in how they add value. They may start a social club, set up an appreciation board or innovate ‘walk and talk’ meetings, each adding significant value to both individuals and the larger organisation. The ideas are literaly endless, so start playing with options for your team.
Find the positive deviant in your business; The people who love their roles, consistently exceed expectations and provide radical value. Study closely what they do, embrace their ideas and empower them to elevate others. Then, emulate their formula across the company to spread positivity and boost the wellbeing of every staff member, customer and stakeholder. The more we empower the positive people in our lives, the more positive ripples we create.
Good luck and if you’re interested in positive deviance, you might also like to take a look at positive leadership for some fresh ideas.