A principle I stand by is that people work best when they feel good about themselves. We find that most people agree with this statement. Do you?
Making people feel good
Think about it. How would your organisation be different if the main focus of management was making your people feel good about themselves?
It is a question I often ask at conferences and when working with organisations. The responses are uniformly positive: “It would be more collaborative”, “there would be less politics”, “we’d get more done”, “less absenteeism”, “more creativity and ideas” are typical conclusions.
Indeed virtually everybody I speak to agrees that it would be a better place to work in, more innovative and more productive. So does it make sense to have that focus? Of course it does.
One national restaurant chain with over 250 branches found that one factor correlated most closely with growth and profits: How happy staff said they were. With happiness linked so closely to success, they went on to be rated the best place to work in the UK.
Another organisation, with 90,000 ‘partners’, state at the heart of their constitution that their partners’ happiness is its ultimate purpose. As a result, the happiness of these people is a key element in any decision the board takes. On that basis, the organisation has become one of the most admired companies, and the biggest general retailer in the country.
A study in the US also found that stocks in companies on the Fortune Great Workplaces list performed, on average, 3.5% a year better than companies on the Standard & Poor general index.
That is the hard financial evidence that great workplaces perform better.
Where happiness comes from
But making people feel good isn’t all about having fun. One of our clients tasked a colleague with increasing happiness. They brought in games and hula hopes and arranged lots of fun activities. They measured happiness among the staff before and afterwards. Happiness went down.
Making people feel good is about deeper stuff. Think back over your career and identify a time that you are especially proud of. For about 4 in 5 people it is a time when they were challenged and for even more, it tends to be a time when they were trusted and given the freedom to do the job the way they wanted to. That is what gives people the potential for real satisfaction.
Creating a happy workplace
If you are a manager, let me give you a simple step to giving people that freedom: Approve the solution to a problem you have tasked a person to solve, before they have come up with it.
You need to think: How can you change your organisation to make it more focused on making people feel good? How can you give people more trust and freedom over their jobs? And, if you are not a manager, how can you secure the trust and freedom you need to both enjoy your work and do it well?