10 Habits of Brilliant Leaders

Zuckerberg quote
I recently shared a drink with a friend who runs a small company. He told me a secret that I’ve never heard him discuss before.

He talked with me about his employees’ moods and how they can fluctuate in such a broad way, which really affects the quality of their work.

“A few years ago I caught one of my employees sleeping at his desk. He wasn’t a bad employee, but he wasn’t great either. He was never late, but there were times he didn’t seem interested in his work at all. Then there were other times he was fantastic. It would fluctuate like this all the time. I didn’t know what to do.”

Shortly after finding his employee asleep he decided he had to make some changes. He told me he took my advice from a conversation over a couple beers last year. He began to explain his vision and why he made certain decisions. He opened up his thought process to all his employees every month. He explained the companies income and costs, what direction the company was trying to go in and why. This also opened up a dialog with his employees that he never knew was possible.

His employees responded better than he thought they would. He even got ideas from his employees of how the company could save money and how to improve the customer experience.

“It was like someone flipped a little switch on in our company. I wished I had done it sooner. Almost everyone was happier and much more engaged. It’s funny though. I never got through to the guy that sparked it all. I eventually had to let him go. Hope he’s at a job he enjoys. I still think about him and feel grateful for the idea he sparked.”

People often stop looking at the larger picture because they get comfortable. This comfortable feeling reduces their desire to go above and beyond. They coast along, slowly disengaging and disliking their work.

A study at the University of Alberta showed that people need a sense of purpose in order to feel engaged with their work. A ‘Spirit at Work’ intervention program for a group of long-term health-care workers boosted morale and job retention. This program urged employees to rethink their job, which reduced absenteeism by 60% and turnover by 75%.

“We discovered that people who are able to find meaning and purpose in their work, and can see how they make a difference through that work, are healthier, happier and more productive employees,” said Val Kinjerski, a University of Alberta PhD graduate who co-authored the study in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing.

By helping your people understand why they do what they do – you can increase happiness and productivity.

I’m going to give you a few ideas that should help your employees feel more engaged with their work.

Are you interested in bringing more fun and happiness to your team? I’m creating a beta program to help you improve employee engagement. I would like to help a small group of leaders grow a happier culture and improve communication at work. If you are a team leader, manager, HR, or CEO then reach out to me. The program will be extremely affordable (big discount) in exchange for your help in making the program better. If you are interested please fill out this short form and I’ll get back to you right away.

1. Empower employees to improve the company

When a leader listens and empowers his employees to fix the small things, there are more people responsible for creating a great customer experience. Each small improvement quickly adds up, improving innovation and helping keep customers happy.

“We try to have as many channels for expression as we can, recognizing that different people, and different ideas, will percolate up in different ways,” Laszlo Bock, VP of Google

When employees believe that their voices matter, they are more likely to feel appreciated by the company. This feeling then encourages each employee to do better work.

Your organization employs smart people, otherwise they probably wouldn’t hold the positions that they do. They just need a chance to unleash that creativity and wow their co-workers and customers.

2. Share positive stories

Your organization has many stories of how employees solved problems, helped others in need, and other ways in which they went above and beyond to make someone happy. However, a lot of companies like to play the modesty card. They hesitate to flaunt their achievements.

Great leaders understand the power of positive stories when they show the value that they bring to the customer.

A client recently told me about how I helped her feel happier. She explained that medication that she took to keep her emotionally balanced didn’t help, but I did. She thanked me profusely. (I put her quote on my Happy Employees page.) I sent the email to my editor. I think she got a better understanding of who I’m trying to help and why I work so hard to create great content. Since she edits many of my articles, I need her to feel engaged with the work, so we keep putting out the best content to help the readers of this blog.

You need to flaunt your greatness!

You have to share similar stories with each other. Talk about how a customer gushed over your attention to detail. It shows the rest of your co-workers why you do what you do. Most of you aren’t working just for the paycheck. You are also working because you make a difference in people’s lives.

The more stories an organization can compile the more powerful it becomes. If your organization is huge, then break it down into departments. Even departments such as marketing and accounting need to compile stories. Many of these stories may be more internal, but it’s still important to document what is happening so you can share with your people why you do what you do.

3. Focus on great culture

Great results are the bottom line of every company. The only way to get great results is to have support at every level. If one domino falls short the customer experience weakens. You can’t have great marketing and bad customer service. That’s why empowering employees to create their own happiness systems, we’ll discuss more in #5, is vital to improving every aspect of your company culture.

“Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” Simon Sinek

When a leader makes the company’s culture a top priority it ripples throughout the whole organization. They want create as many avenues for employee happiness that their resources will allow. It’s this habit that helps an employee feel engaged with their work and deliver great results.

4. Explain the vision again and again

A great leader has vision that guides everyone in the organization. They are able to plan for next year like it’s next month. They know how they want to get there and help explain what he wants done to make it happen.

It’s this vision that helps put into focus every action an employee makes within the company. Without explaining this vision many employees become lost, unable to see what is truly important.

“If you’re changing the world, you’re working on important things. You’re excited to get up in the morning.” – Larry Page, CEO of Google

Every company helps someone. It’s up to the leaders in your company to bring clarity to who you serve and how you will make it happen. The more ways you can explain your visions the clearer it becomes.

5. Allow employees to design their work systems

Your employees know their strengths. They know whether they enjoy certain projects and which ones drive them crazy. Utilizing this information is vital to getting great results out of your employees.

Allow your employees the freedom to design how they would get the task done. They will own the project and work harder to make sure it succeeds.

6. Listen to Feedback

In order to stay engaged in our work, we have to recognize our mistakes and understand how to fix them. By listening to employee, customer, and vendor feedback, an organization is taking the time to understand their mistakes and correct them.

I have known many people who like to solve problems. They get an energy boost from making a solution happen. I worked at K-Mart in my teenage years and I’ll never forget a look on one customer’s face because of what one of my co-workers was able to do for her.

A woman came into the store asking for a patio umbrella that wasn’t in stock. The salesperson called 4 different stores before she found the lady’s umbrella. He asked the store to transfer it and he would call the lady as soon as it came in.

I remember when the lady came into the store to pick up the umbrella. She was gushing because it was the only one that fit her patio furniture.

You could see the manager of the employee beaming with pride.

I’ve seen and been on the receiving end of an employee just not caring. They can hear and/or see that I’m upset and they choose not to help.

You need to give your people a chance to create solutions so they can feel like they are a superhero.

7. Encourage employees to fix mistakes

Yaro Starak wrote a blog post about his experience at Starbucks. It made great advertising for Starbucks. Starbucks empowers their employees to make good decisions, which leads to the best type of advertising in the world: word of mouth.

Yaro ordered a tea and an oat brownie. He waited for it to arrive on the counter. After a few minutes he told the barista that he was still waiting for his tea. The Starbucks employee had forgotten about his order. He quickly made the tea, apologized and handed him a piece of cardboard that said…

We apologize if your Starbucks experience was anything but wonderful. We want to know how we can make things better and always invite you to share your thoughts with us. The next time we see you, please enjoy a beverage, on us. We hope your next visit is better.

Yaro might bring a friend in with him the next time he goes to Starbucks. Now that extra expenditure almost balanced itself out.

Yaro explained how he felt…

I waited about an extra minute longer for my tea than I should have. That is definitely not long enough for me to get angry and I was served very quickly once I notified them that my tea was missing.

Yet, despite this, the Starbucks policy is to offer a complimentary beverage even if their system is slightly out of whack. I walked away impressed that I scored a free beverage voucher, but not really because of the beverage itself, I was impressed with the customer service policy I just witnessed (hence I’m writing a blog post about it!).

Starbucks did not diminish in my eyes as a result of this incident. In fact they impressed me, so much so that I’m now writing a blog post that will be read by thousands of people proclaiming good things about Starbucks service (that’s some good word of mouth). Of course not every Starbucks customer has a blog they can rave to when something happens, but every person has friends and people they talk to, and this one policy of Starbucks will encourage word of mouth through normal social interaction too.

It all started because Starbucks empowers their employees to make the customer feel good. That’s the benefit to happiness at work. The employee corrects a mistake, and the customer is happy after receiving a free voucher for something of such little inconvenience. Everyone feels good. The drinks that Starbucks make don’t cost them that much, so in reality they are probably losing less than a dollar on the whole transaction.

Gaining a loyal customer.

8. Recharge internal battery every single day

When you run a company you can’t go 9 hours straight without stopping. You probably can’t even go 4 hours without recharging. That’s why smart leaders take the time to recharge their mind and body.

Listening to your body instead of powering through, it’s vital to making quality decisions.

“Manage your energy, not your time.” – Tony Schwartz

Next time you feel sluggish try going for a walk or taking 10 deep breaths. The idea is to do something that gets you away from thinking about work and allows you to let go of your tension loop. You’ll feel refreshed, happier, and make better decisions.

9. Celebrate hard work and great results

The number one reason people leave their job is because they don’t feel appreciated. If you are ho hum about showing your appreciation then your people may stop trying.

You can do something simple like walk up to them and just thank them for their hard work.

People want to know that what they do matters. That means celebrating all the good things.

This should be done in large and small groups. The larger gatherings can occur about 1-4 times a year, while the smaller groups (celebrations within a department) should be done more often.

Making your celebration a regular routine is the key, because you want to make a habit out of celebrating your successes. Try celebrating once a quarter to start. If you overload people and celebrate too often, they will get bored and also be unable to find reasons to rejoice in their hard work.

To avoid allowing this practice to fall away, it’s important to make the celebration fun. That might mean bringing food, let people play a game, and finding other ideas that get people excited about attending your party.

10. Develop company core values 

Making the values visible for the employees to read and hear every day helps each employee connect to a larger vision. We all need to believe that our work means more than just completing our tasks.

“Your personal core values define who you are, and a company’s core values ultimately define the company’s character and brand. For individuals, character is destiny. For organizations, culture is destiny.”
― Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

I suggest to my clients that they encourage their teams to come up with core values as well. What truly matters to the company is important, but team values are just as important. They will help guide daily decisions.

Help your people connect to a larger purpose. Ask them what they believe are the core values of the organization. You may be surprised by the responses.

Good Habits Build a Better Company

After implementing just one of these habits, assess how these changes affect your organization. You will probably notice that people are more engaged and willing to try a little harder.

“I think as a company, if you can get those two things right — having a clear direction on what you are trying to do and bringing in great people who can execute on the stuff — then you can do pretty well.” – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook

I know one of these ideas will help make a big impact in your company. The companies that succeed are the ones that make these ideas a regular habit. It needs to become part of the culture, so when something difficult happens there are good habits to fall back on. And when something great happens everyone can celebrate together.

* Do you want your employees be happier and encourage them to become more engaged? Then check out our Happy Employees Beta program and see how the Work Happy Now 10 step process can help your company retain it’s great people, improve their focus, and deliver a great customer experience.

5 Ways to Make Meetings More Fun and Useful

Fun meetings

Meetings can be very powerful or big time killers. Very rarely do they fall in between.

Your focus should be improving workflow and communication through better meetings, training and technology. For example there are different kinds of collaboration software that can open communication and increase productivity without having to have a formal meeting. I use Asana and Trello with my virtual team.

Many meetings don’t need to be held if collaboration happens naturally within the flow of the workday. Meetings definitely have their place when conversations spark unique ideas that otherwise wouldn’t happen.

I know you can’t get rid of meetings, but you can make them more fun, efficient and encourage creative collaboration.

Now let’s look at how you can improve your meetings:

1. Create a detailed agenda and goals.

The person who created the meeting should also create an agenda. They should have a vision for how the meeting should go and a plan for communicating what they want to cover.

I’ve worked for companies where the agenda was a standard practice, but they often still missed out on the most crucial part. What are the goals? When you can identify a goal for each agenda item, it will help the whole team understand how they can help each other reach their goals.

2. Set a time limit.

Too often meetings have an open time associated with them. If they start at 10am and they go to lunch there is probably some wasted time in there.

By putting a time limit on the meeting, people will be more focused and will likely complete their discussions within the allotted time. This reduces the fluff and banter that can be done in the meeting.

Quick tip: try scheduling fun meetings, which are more about team building, creativity, and sharing instead of following a strict agenda. You can allow people to have fun in a meeting, just set the rules on what type of meeting you are having before it starts.

3. Gamify your meetings.

As kids we learn by playing games. Tapping into this kidlike feeling at work will help your team create bonds and help everyone feel a little happier.

For example, you can give out stickers to people who give the best ideas in response to a problem. The person with the most stickers wins a free lunch.

If you don’t want to create this type of environment during the meeting, try a game at the end of the meeting. This works well especially if your meetings are optional, because it might entice people to stick around instead of rushing off.

The game could be fun for the sake of fun (ex: what is your favorite animal and why, or what has been your favorite project in the last 6 months that you worked on and why). Everyone who participates gets thrown in a drawing for a $10 Starbucks giftcard or they get to pick where the next meeting will be held. The prizes should depend on what your employees would like to win.

The most important component of the game is to help people bond. The more you can create fun experiences that they can share with each other, the more connected they will feel toward each other.

4. Come up with a possible solution when you present a problem.

As a good leader in meetings you have to know you can’t know or do it all. Your job is to help explain the vision and let your team help you get there. So next time someone has a problem and they just throw it out there, take a pause and ask them what they think is the best option that we should take and why.

You can lead co-workers in the same way. Many times co-workers start their own mini-meeting with you. They come up to you expecting you to solve the problems because you have strong skills in this area. If you just solve their problem they’ll just come back to you again. Try to be a leader and see if they have any possible solutions that they think would work.

When meetings are done well they bring smart people together to find solutions to problems that can’t be solved by just one person. The more you can encourage everyone to pitch in ideas and solutions the more you empower them to do great work, building confidence and employee engagement.

5. Let everyone share one thing they want to celebrate.

Depending on your time limit, you can set a small amount of time for everyone to celebrate something that is going well with their team, project, or life.

We don’t celebrate as often as we should because we are an “on the go” business culture. We usually move on to the next thing instead of taking the time to appreciate what is right before us. By encouraging celebration you are giving people the stage to celebrate each other.

You can even encourage people to celebrate a team member instead of themselves. This encourages your team to share appreciation for each other, building camaraderie and affection for each other.

Your Turn

Meetings can be lousy if not run well. What “meeting improvement” tips can you share with the Work Happy Now community? I like when people add to my ideas and we give people even more options.

What have you seen work well in meetings you enjoyed?

30 Healthy Rewards to Boost Your Happiness

holding-dove-dark-chocolate

Last week I was struggling to do a few simple tasks. I laid my head down on my desk and sighed. The two tasks weren’t a lot of fun, but I needed to get them done.

So instead of forcing myself to do them I decided to take a kinder self-approach. If I finished the first task I would take a 10 minute walk. If I finished the second task I would get myself a piece of Dove dark chocolate.

It’s important to remember it’s not just the reward that you give yourself for doing a difficult task. It’s how you use it to recharge your internal battery. A difficult task can drain your energy and if you don’t savor the reward it’s not benefiting you as much as it could.

Once I finished my task I grabbed the Dove dark chocolate piece, unwrapped it, and mindfully placed it on my tongue. I let it sit their for 3 deep breaths then chewed it. It made up for the tedious task. It also gave me some energy for my next task.

External rewards are really good for tasks that don’t have a lot of internal motivation. So if you can’t get yourself excited about a tedious task try these little “carrot” type of rewards to help get your happiness and productivity back on track.

Special notice: The Unlock Your Career Happiness Guide is now available. Click here to see how my 7 step process helps my clients become happier and get better results.

Reinforcing good habits is paramount to building habits that help you stop procrastinating and taking action on work that needs to get done.

1. Take a short walk.
2. Write down 5 things you are currently grateful for right now.
3. Have lunch with a friend.
4. Eat a piece of dark chocolate.
5. Take a 20 minute nap.
6. Drink a really good cup of tea.
7. Do a quick celebration dance to your favorite song.
8. Call a friend for a few minutes.
9. Share your hard work on Facebook.
10. Go work in the park for an hour.
11. Do a smile session. Think of someone you love and smile. Repeat this 10x. (Best to do this in an empty room so you don’t scare anyone.)
12. Buy a small gift for yourself.
13. Make a thank you card for yourself so you can read it at the end of the month.
14. Go get a massage.
15. Watch a funny clip on YouTube. (Search “ultimate dog tease or office pranks”)
16. Read some of your favorite quotes.
17. Eat a ripe piece of fruit.
18. Drink a glass of wine or beer. Good for weekend tasks. :)
19. Buy a sandwich for a friend.
20. Write a poem to a loved one.
21. Meditate for 10 minutes
22. Play a board game with a friend.
23. Offer to do a boring job for a friend to help them and you appreciate your work.
24. Go “old school” and use a pen for the next half hour.
25. Put underwear on your head and sing the song, “I am awesome.” (This might not be in the healthy or do at work category, but it should release some endorphins after you crack yourself up.)
26. Play your favorite game for the next 20 minutes. (Set a timer so you don’t over do it.)
27. Email a friend thanking them for all their support.
28. Bake banana and raisin cookies for yourself and the office.
29. Move the furniture around in your office to make it more Feng Shui friendly.
30. Make a list of the next 5 people you want to build a friendship with to grow your community.

You can alter or change these healthy rewards to fit your personality. Remember to not repeat something too often. If you reward yourself with a piece of chocolate after every little tedious task that you complete your waistline might not be very grateful for you increased productivity.

What type of small reward would you add to the list?

Top 15 Business Building Quotes and Research

Companies that put an emphasis on employee happiness are rewarded. Every company has a culture that either supports or detracts from their productivity and bottom line. Figuring out how to create a more supportive culture should be at the top of every company’s “to do” list.

Here are some of the best quotes and research that I have on the importance of work happiness.
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5 Important Rules to Follow When Tele-commuting

home-office-blueEditor’s note: This is a guest post from Evita of Evolving Beings

In our first part of this series, we considered “Why Companies Should Allow Their Employees to Work from Home”. Today we follow up with 5 important rules to follow when working from home.

Having experience in working from home for a company (through my husband), and working from home for myself, I would like to explore the topic of working from home from both angles.

Let’s look at how to make the most of your work happiness when you telecommute for a company:
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How do You Know if You’ve Contacted Adultitis?

kimandjasonEvery now and again, I like to bring you short interviews to give you a new perspective on work happiness. During my study of work happiness I have found that there are many paths to the same goal. Some people believe that loving what you do is a must, while other people believe that relationships are vital to enjoying the work that we do. Interviews are a great way to get out of your own perspective and see what other people are doing to be happy at work.

There are so many amazing people in the blogging world, but one of my more recent finds is Jason of Escape Adulthood. He and Kim (his wife) have created a business out of bringing the fun back into life.

The first impression of Jason was a video that I watched of a water balloon fight between Jason and Kim. They were sitting in chairs and throwing water balloons over their garage to see who had the better aim. It was right then that I was hooked. Having fun in life is a big part of being happy, so I’m glad to bring you an interview with Jason.
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Freedom – Rehumanize Business Part 3

twitter-symbolWhen a business stops trying to control their employees, the employees begin to feel free at work. This freedom will allow them to feel more comfortable and happy.

Let’s say you have 50 employees who each have 100 Facebook and 100 Twitter friends. That’s 10,000 people that your employees are interacting with. They are talking about you to their friends.

What are they really saying?

Employee Outreach

You should be encouraging your employees to talk about their company, but never force them to use social media. Your employees will share the company’s story with their friends when you treat your employees like the superstars that they are.

This is where freedom comes in. If your people feel that they are free to do what is best for them and the company, they will use this freedom to make both themselves and the company happy.
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Unleash Employees’ Inner Creative Marketing Talents – Rehumanize Business Part 2

Zappos-interiorYou may have read that title and thought, “What does my company’s marketing have to do with work happiness?”

A lot.

70% of business is transacted because your friend told you about a product or service. You probably own an iPod because your friends wouldn’t stop raving about their iPod. You trust your friends to recommend good stuff.

Zappos let’s their employees Twitter on the job. They trust their people to connect with the customer.

I love Zappos, not because they have every kind of shoe on the planet, but because they ship for free, have a 360 day return policy and pay for shipping back to the company if you want to return a purchase. Now that’s worth spreading.

People want to share stuff that makes them happy. It’s up to companies to encourage their people to share their story.
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Rehumanize Business – Part 1

chris-brogan-sToo many businesses are worried about playing it safe. They don’t want to uncover the bad stuff that is happening in their business, so they look the other way instead. Human Resources is there to protect the company. Upper management only wants to know about positive sales figures.

Who can most employees turn to?

They don’t turn to anyone; they just leave.

I want to rehumanize (I borrowed the word from Chris Brogan) business so that people feel free to speak up. The only way business is going to become faster, more enjoyable and more profitable is if you have every person in your company and even your customers become a part of your marketing department. That means they tell their friends, family and their internet buddies that your products/services are awesome.
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How to Build Better Relationships at Work

Relationships are built on trust. If I trust you to help me finish a project and you flake out on me, that trust is gone.

If you are a stand up person who sweats, bleeds, and cries by my side and also encourages me to be great than you’ve earned my trust. I’ll love you until the end of time.

This video was shot on my lunch hour because that morning I worked on a project with a group of guys I would go to business war with. They are smart, fun, and we get a lot accomplished. Yes, I’m talking about my day job. Hey, I’m doing this for you, so I can learn first hand how to make people happy at work. :)

We need to learn to build trust with our co-workers, bosses, and clients. That means being there and supporting them when they need it the most.

Now it’s time to watch the video and find out one more way to build better relationships at work.
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