Following The Leader: How To Lead A Happy Team

“Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.” Steve Jobs

I recently watched a talk by Nic Marks, founder of Friday Pulse, an organisation that helps businesses measure the happiness of their people. Nic came up with the 5 Ways To Workplace Wellbeing which he says are:

  • Connect
  • Be fair
  • Empower 
  • Challenge 
  • Inspire.

Michael C Bush CEO of Great Place to Work an organisation dedicated to discovering what makes a great workplace tells us what makes employees happy is trust and respect, fairness and listening.

So if we know these are the vital ingredients then what is the recipe to make a happy team?

In her 2015 TED talk Diana Dosik, expert in organisational behaviour and culture, suggests that we need to treat our employees as thoughtfully as our customers. Lots of businesses think about their customer journey but how many think about their employee journey? What does it feel like to be a employee in your business? How does it feel to be a member of your team? Try to stand in the shoes of your people and see what might be making them feel unhappy at work? What small changes might make them feel happier?

Perhaps it’s that they need to feel more listened to, or have time to connect with others. Perhaps they aren’t feeling stretched and need a new challenge? Do they feel empowered to take control and ownership of any challenges? Are you leading by example and role modelling the behaviours you are expecting of them?

Underpinning all of this is the fact that in order to work out what our people need we need to ask them. We need to listen to them, ask questions and actually listen to the answers. When people are asked what makes a good leader I often hear the answer ‘communication’. I agree communication is vital – employees need to feel informed and know what is going on in the business – but communication needs to be a two-way street. We need to give our employees the chance to communicate with us as leaders, to tell us how they are feeling, what is going on in their world, what would make their life easier, what untapped skills they can bring to the table. We won’t know any of these things unless we create time and space to listen to our people. 

As for trust and respect one of the most important things a leader can do is stick to their promises. If you say you are going to do something, do it. As Nic Mark reminds us, it takes much less time to lose trust than it does to build it. Deal with frustrations quickly and don’t let them fester. 

As leaders we also have to remember to treat our people with respect – they are adults and it’s vital we treat them as such. So many times I’ve been in leadership meetings where there is an idea pitched that will make employees’ lives easier/give them more autonomy/make the workplace a better place to work and everyone in the room comes up with a list of reasons why we can’t do it, why it won’t work. Now that might be because I’m used to working with lawyers who can be known for their adversity to risk but I don’t think this is unique to lawyers (in fact I know it’s not). The best leaders in the most successful companies start from a position of ‘what can we do to make this work?’, ‘what will it take to make this happen?’. That shift in mindset to a ‘can do’ approach is vital for building trust and respect within a team. Empower your people to do things for themselves and you might just be surprised at how well it turns out.

People want to know they are being treated fairly at work. Sometimes leaders confuse this with thinking they need to treat everyone exactly the same when that isn’t the case. Employees are humans and we know no two humans are exactly the same. We don’t all have the same needs and desires, we don’t all want to be treated in the same way. Of course, it should go without saying that you should not discriminate against any employee or treat them less favourably because they have a particular characteristic (sex, race, religion, disability etc). When it comes to what is fair we are back to communication and listening – most of the time your employees themselves will be the best judges of what they consider fair or not. If you are thinking of making a change start by talking to the people it will affect. Don’t assume they will think it’s a good or bad idea. In fact you may be surprised that when you offer them option A or option B they in fact come up with the magical, bonus prize option C which is better for everyone than option A or B. 

So in summary, be there for your people and they will be there for you. Treat them like adults, and they will act like adults. Simple right? 

If you would like to chat about how I can help your team become happier then get in touch. We can arrange a free no-obligation conversation about what The Happy Business School does and how I can help you and your team.

#happinessatwork #leadership #teams

5 myths about happiness at work

Wrong. The absence of disease isn’t health and the absence of misery isn’t happiness. Just because we might do enough as leaders to not have our people crying at their desks doesn’t mean we are invested in their happiness. Just because an employees comes in every day, does a good job and leaves without complaining about anything doesn’t mean they are happy.

Wrong. It’s right that some some people are more naturally optimistic but, with practice, you can become happier. There is a wealth of science that shows, when we know how, we can train our brains to be more positive. Asking someone to write down three good things that have happened in the last 24 hours may appear glib but this is about training the brain to spot positive things. When we learn to look for things we see them more easily.

Wrong. In fact blind optimism is a bad thing. Who wants to be in a plane where the pilot never believes anything bad can happen so doesn’t bother doing all the safety checks (not me for sure!). Just like in the world of work we don’t want to fail to look out for the risks and dangers, we just don’t want to be overwhelmed by the fear of them.

Wrong. The science tells us that being happier at work makes us more productive, more resilient, more creative, more accurate, more analytical, less likely to take time off sick, leave or burnout. Who doesn’t want those benefits? Yes, what a great wellbeing initiative to be able to say we are interested and investing in your happiness but it goes much further than that. There are real business benefits to helping people increase their happiness.

This one is only a half myth. Yes, people need to be invested in working on their own happiness but as a leader it is for us to help them with that, to show them we value their happiness, to allow them time to work on it, to give them the tools they need to become happier at work. Importantly we need to help them understand why being happy at work is important. As a leader if you can show you are invested in your own happiness it will show your people they should invest in theirs too.

Get our free guide?​
Sign up for a free happiness at work guide.

Together we can create happier workplaces.

Forget gimmicks like ice cream van visits or ping pong tables – let’s work together to build a positive culture where people feel valued and encouraged. Let’s help your people find purpose and meaning in their work.

What People Say...

Latest updates from The Happy Business School

Mar 15

Read More
Mar 15

Read More
Mar 15

Read More

Let's work together to create a bespoke solution just right for your business.

Contact me to book a free 30 minute consultation to chat about how I can help your business.

Looking for practical tips and advice
to boost workplace happiness?

Sign up for our FREE Happiness at Work Guide which includes:

  • 8 Reasons To Invest In Workplace Happiness
  • 5 Tips To Boost Your Happiness At Work
  • 4 Ways Leaders Can Create A Happy Workplace

(We’ll also add you to our mailing list so we can send you the occasional update but don’t worry, we won’t bombard you and it’s really easy to unsubscribe at any time.)