Whenever we hear the term “deviance” we immediately think of people doing the wrong thing – counterproductive work behaviours, as they are known in psychology research.  This is understandable, because bad behaviours have a massive effect on people’s wellbeing and organisation outcomes such as productivity.

But what about the other side of deviance – positive deviance?  People are being positively deviant if they do things which are more positive than most people at work:

  • Helping colleagues
  • Solving problems
  • Saying optimistic things
  • Being supportive
  • Focussing on solutions rather than emotions

Improvement of corporate culture intrinsically requires positive deviance.  You can’t move your culture forward without someone breaking ranks and doing things better.  Here are two tips for creating more positive deviance in your workforce:


Andrew Marty
Managing Director
SACS Consulting


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Cameron, Kim S. (2008) “Positively Deviant Organizational Performance and the Role of Leadership Values,” The Journal of Values-Based Leadership: Vol. 1: Iss. 1, Article 8

Andrew Marty