One of my first jobs was working in a serious Melbourne law firm as a paralegal. I was in my early 20’s, fresh out of uni, waiting for the career job to come along. I worked there with a team of about 10 easy going, happy, fun loving, people in the same situation.
At 8:30 am as we walked through the intimidating glass and steel foyer of the law firm, all that happiness was set aside and we were expected to become serious, demure, largely silent professionals.
We couldn’t hold all that positive energy down and I recall how, as soon as the manager walked out of the paralegal room we’d all break up laughing at absolutely nothing. As soon as the manager walked back in, we’d quickly resume our seriousness, mostly for fear of losing our jobs.
Happy, easy going staff were considered lazy, incompetent and uncommitted back then and most likely ended up with a pink slip AKA the sack.
That old style of work may have made controlling staff easier but it came with lost motivation, productivity, creativity, collaboration, morale and profitability (amongst many other things).
We’ve since learnt that to improve business results we actually want people to be happier at work.
It goes something like this. We like to buy from happy people, we like to work with happy people and when we are happy ourselves the quality of our lives and our work improves.
And we just don’t care for a lot of unhappiness.
It’s so very easy to encourage happier work and happier people and best of all it costs nada. Here are 5 of the big ones to get you started:
1 Recognise your happiness factor at work and improve it
Are you showing up to work energised and excited or does you day start with a recurrent bout of Mondayitis?
Learn to notice your mood cycle and start to shift it up a notch by challenging some of your more negative thoughts and patterns with some positive realism. A great way to disrupt a negative pattern is to ask “what good is here” – aiming for balance is a great place to start.
If you’ve got staff this is super important because your mood will be reflected right back at you by your staff.
2 Tackle the frustrations head on
Useless distractions, things not working or taking too long, unresolved problems and even clutter all add up to a big bag of frustration that weighs us and our teams down.
Once a week commit to a frustration buster session and choose 3 things that you can fix once and for all. It’s all about creating a new pattern that says that working with ease is more important than living / working / carrying around a big heavy bag of frustration.
3 Judge performance on outcomes not effort
I hate to admit it, but sometimes I sit at my computer, staring into space because I think that I need to “be working”. The alternative is that I could be doing something far more productive like, getting some exercise, learning something new by reading a book, making new connections by catching up with people but some where my little brain has been programmed to believe that work means putting in effort.
The reality is I’m not achieving any outcome when I’m staring at my screen, I’m just putting in effort.
And, worse yet, it drains my energy and my zest for work. The solution is to recognise when we are operating out of the old effort paradigm and step in to 2017 where creating great outcomes matters more.
4 Notice what is working more and first
It’s taken me some time to learn how to be happy about work, I’ll leave that story for another day. One of the most effective mindset shifts I made which helped supercharge my efforts, was to notice more of what was going right, rather than spend all my time / energy on making things better.
Now, when I am presented with a challenging situation I deliberately ask myself “what good is here” to balance my natural rush in and fix it tendencies.
The payoff is that I approach the situation with a more open mind and there’s been a substantial decrease in the drama I experience, and occasionally inadvertently created.
5 Encourage, never tell, others to just be happy
Happiness is an inside job. As leaders we can help others to learn to make choices that will lead to their own happiness like dealing with stress better or reducing the negative influences that drain away happiness.
The most powerful leader is the one that practices what they teach. Showing others that you have learnt to live happier, talking about your own happiness journey and sharing happiness rituals like playing more or saying thank you more are a great place to start.
If you want to learn more or come long to one of my workshops on managing for happiness please head over to www.andreatunjic.com to be kept informed.