Is it my job as a leader to ensure that my team is happy? No, it is my job to ensure we provide them with the tools they need, a nice work environment and of course – not least a fair salary. But beside that I cannot guarantee the happiness of my team.
Goes without saying that I like it much better when they are happy, but it cannot be my duty to make them happy. What I see and hear people complaining about their job is the salary (granted we would all like to earn more money), but if you are rewarded fairly then extra dosh in the bank is not going to make you happier or more motivated – except maybe for a short period of time. Or the work hours – but in most businesses there are some standard work hours where we need to be available.
What most of us forget is that unless you life is really in the sh@t you can choose to be happy, you have a choice, Is your glass half empty or half full? That goes for work as well. If you arrive to the office everyday dreading the day ahead of you, you are in the wrong job. If you dread it because you hate the work you do it is time to move on. If the tools are inadequate and your salary not fair for the job you do – it is time to move on (as a company you need to care about your employees enough to ensure this is OK – if not you are not worth working for).
A lot can be done by each individual employee. I am sure we all know those people who “spread gold dust” in the office the smiling happy ones! Yet so many of us seem to focus on the negative. If I tell you my flight was delayed, I am sure you have a story where not only was your flight delayed – you luggage was delayed even longer! I will come back with the time my luggage was lost and I never saw it again. If I tell you about a colleague who did me wrong – you probably have a story of how he/she did you wrong – just worse! What we would probably not talk about is all the times that person has done right by us (or all the flights that was on time and we got our luggage).
In the past I have heard a lot of complaint about the atmosphere in the office – what always gets me is that collectively we make up the atmosphere we work in so if so many of us are unhappy – we have it in our power to turn it around.
In our team we started a project “Positive thinking”. We took a lot of inspiration from “Happy hour is 9 -5” by Alexander Kjerulf on www.positivesharing.com. We made some small adjustments and rules.
· Make sure you build relationships with your colleagues who you do not see very often, call them instead of emailing all the time (so many things can be misunderstood via email). If you have the chance drink a cup of coffee or a beer with them (again it is much easier to be positive towards somebody you have had an informal talk with).
· When you hear somebody complain about a colleague, customer ect. Listen and acknowledge (we all need to vent once in a while) but also remind them of all the good things this colleague, customer ect . has done. So give them a break.
· If you feel like writing an angry email, write it – keep it for 24 hours read it again and see if there is still the need to send it.
· Lead by example!!!
And although I cannot see a big difference in our employee satisfaction surveys everybody agrees that the office is a much nicer place to be working in and also to visit. I see people much happier to help out and many more smiles as I walk through (but maybe they are just laughing at me).