Why American Leaders Don’t Care about Happiness at Work

emotions matter

My son just starred as the credits rolled. It wasn’t the reaction that I was hoping for. I wiped away a tear and whispered in his ear.

What did you think?

Nothing. He just sat there, staring straight ahead.

He’s five and got up on my lap in the beginning of the movie. He barely twitched for an hour and forty minutes.

The movie definitely interested him, but he just wasn’t sure what to make of it.

We watched Inside Out. A movie about a young girls emotions as she dealt with moving from Minnesota to San Fransisco.

It was a look at the emotions inside this girl’s head and the struggles that all eleven year olds go through. The main character (emotion) inside her, Joy, struggle with letting sadness be a part of her emotional spectrum.

It was a cool visualization of how many of us deal with our emotions.

We’re afraid of them.

Their messy.

Especially at work.

This was very true as I talked with my Aunt who is a small business owner. She took me out to lunch and asked me about my businesses.

I explained how my UX (User Experience) company, Domino Connection, was growing very fast for only being me. I told her how I branched out into A/B testing website, so I could help my clients create base markers to measure from so they could increase leads and sales. She was fascinated.

I then shared how I used a lot of the stuff from Work Happy Now to help my clients like helping them create feedback loops, developing core values to use in the workplace, and measuring people’s happiness (satisfaction) at work.

I started to lose her.

I tried to bring her back, but I felt the push back about measuring happiness.

I’ve seen this again and again from American leaders at work.

Don’t get me wrong. My aunt has a lot of happiness ideas in place for her employees. She tries very hard to make employees feel listened to and appreciated. She buys them lunch when they work weekends. She pays 100% for their healthcare.

There are a lot of perks, but she also makes a lot of mistakes. Which she’ll also admit. There are no perfect leaders.

As I tried to bring her back to the idea of measuring happiness and improving her feedback loop she explained how she already did a lot of this and didn’t really need to improve it.

I paused and thought about a conversation that I had with a potential client around creating happiness measurement markers in their company.

You can’t improve what you don’t measure.

I created the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit – Break in case of stress overload. Leaders, like my aunt, can bring a more positive experiences into the workplace and improve engagement if they have help.

It was the same conversation all over again.

Americans don’t like dealing with emotions in the workplace. We don’t want to deal with sadness, anger, and even happiness.

We have a hard enough time accepting our own thoughts and emotions, dealing with other people’s emotions just gets harder.

Does it mean we should ignore emotions in the workplace because it’s hard?

NO!

Let me ask you:

How often do you celebrate at work?

Not just closing a big client or someone’s birthday. Which of course is good to do, but celebrating a team’s hard work.

Just sharing a proud moment even if it didn’t work out. Taking a moment to celebrate someone’s hard work shows them that you are listening. That you notice how hard they are working. It’s this appreciation that can make an employee’s week.

It’s not just Americans that struggle with emotions in the workplace. Germans, Brits, and Japanese people struggle with emotions too.

We are afraid to admit we are tired, stressed, frustrated. We push these emotions down and take it out on our families, which isn’t fair.

That’s why measuring people’s emotional states is important. We can see patterns in the joy and the struggle. We can use these patterns to help make better choices for the company to retain people who are thinking about leaving the company or improve how people view their experience at work.

Is it perfect? Nope. Science isn’t perfect. It gets even messier with trying to measure feelings. It’s about doing our best to improve upon our experiences so we don’t get overwhelmed, stressed out, and cause more damage to ourselves or other people. It’s also about being happier because if we aren’t happy at work we don’t have good results.

The point of life is happiness. – The Dalai Lama

Asking for feedback from employees on a regular basis is just one listening tool that you can use to help increase happiness.

This is where it gets tough for many leaders…They first have to admit that they aren’t perfect and they need help. That they don’t always listen as well as they should or believe that they are.

Are American leaders afraid of the answers that they will get if they ask how happy their employees are at work? Maybe they’re afraid of getting too much feedback or not enough.

So I ask you…

Why do you think Americans so afraid of emotions at work? Do you see it similar to me or from a different perspective?

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section in the article.

If you need help retaining your best employees and improving your listening tools, so they feel heard. Just let me know and we’ll set up a consultation.

10 Big Mistakes That Kill Employee Morale

tired-polar-bear-595

A few months in at my last job the greatness started to wear off. I wish it could have been different. The main issue was my relationship with my boss.

He never complimented me or thanked me for my hard work. Every idea that I presented was ignored. My boss, while a good manager on his good days, was a bit of a grump on bad days. Don’t get me wrong, we got along most of the time. But our work relationship suffered. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t seem to psych myself up. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I wanted out.

Here’s the thing: everyone wants a team of employees who are dedicated to their jobs and are excited to come to work every day. The best way to achieve this, of course, is by maintaining a high level of morale in the workplace. You probably know the phrase “a happy wife makes a happy life?” Well, a happy employee makes employers more money.

The problem? This is easier said than done.

Achieving a happy office is largely dependent upon the professional health of the leadership. As even executives are human, it’s all too easy for leaders to get lost in the shuffle of everyday business needs rather than actively searching out how they can address the needs of the employees. Who can set the environment of an organization but the leader?

Leaders who want to be effective, respected and well liked should avoid some of the most common mistakes that directly impact the morale of their employees:

Mistake #1: Trying Too Hard to Be Everywhere

Have you ever seen the portraits where the eyes of the subject seem to follow the viewer wherever they go? It’s creepy, right? Don’t be like that.

As a leader, you’re held responsible for the quality of all projects. It can be hard to trust employees to get it done how you want, especially when they’re new to the team. It’s easy to want to check-in frequently to see how things are going and give them a hand to get the project moving in the right direction. Doing so can inhibit the productivity and creativity of your team, though.

Next time you feel yourself checking in too often, remember why you handed the project off: you’re too busy to do everything yourself and you have a team of capable, knowledgeable employees.

Give employees the space and authority they need to make educated decisions, and trust them to do it. They’ll feel much more confident, and you’ll feel much more relaxed not having to be everywhere at once.

Mistake #2: Being too Proud to Admit a Mistake

The best example of how to behave is by looking at the behavior patterns set by the leadership.  With that being said, however, leaders are prone to making mistakes just like everyone else. What sets a good leader apart from others is their willingness to honestly admit when they are wrong, which, according to Steve Blank at Entrepreneur, is “one more step toward a more effective and cohesive company.”

Even if it’s a small and unintentional mistake, fess up to it. Employees will appreciate the forthrightness and honesty. And, they’ll be more likely to own up to their own mistakes in the future.

Mistake #3: Being Too Busy to Listen to Your Employees

Your phone is ringing off the hook, your inbox is full, and you have a report due to a client in a few hours. It’s easy to neglect your own needs, let alone the needs of your employees.

Be sure to make time to listen to your employees. Foster an environment that welcomes and embraces ingenuity and innovation, and is considerate of your employees’ concerns. After all, giving employees the opportunity to come up with new and better ways of performing their tasks can save the company time, resources and money.

Mistake #4: Thinking You Know What Someone Wants Without Asking Them.

No one wants to be a puppet or the scapegoat of why a project didn’t get completed.

Encourage employees to speak up for themselves so that everyone can understand how the pieces of the group fit together. This ability to converse and be honest and open with one another means that problems will be addressed more quickly and respectfully, as that is the expectation being set. 

Mistake #5: Not Taking the Time to Say Thank You When You are Busy

Everyone wants to feel appreciated and needed. Forgetting to acknowledge the accomplishments of workers can make them feel just the opposite, and chances are, it won’t be long until they go work for someone else who will see – and acknowledge – their value.

Lindsey Lavine, from Fast Company, wrote an excellent article on the power of showing appreciation. Her article discusses the psychological impact gratitude has on getting people to help out, which is incredibly beneficial when trying to motivate employees to work hard.

Mistake #6: Not Emphasizing that Your Employees Ideas Are Important

Leaders who are doing their job well know that every skillset is important. Whether or not the job requires a lot of education or experience doesn’t matter.

Making employees feel as though their opinion matters and they aren’t being lorded over does, so try not to pull rank and make them feel stupid. Instead, appreciate any comments or feedback they offer.

Mistake #7: Not Giving Off the Proper Signals that You are Approachable

Think for a second about the waiting area of the doctor’s office. It’s full of potential issues and problems waiting to be solved by the doctor. The problem is that the doctor is incredibly busy with a long list of patients who arrived earlier. This means a long wait that seems like an eternity.

Often times, leaders also let their employees sit in the waiting room. Their employees’ questions go unanswered and no one gets a proper diagnosis or treatment.

Become more accessible with open communication lines and an open-door policy with specific visiting hours. Be sure to also show that you’re approachable by being transparent and starting the conversation.

Mistake #8: Losing Track of What You Promised To Do

Everyone struggles with this, but follow-through is incredibly important in establishing and maintaining respect with employees. If leadership decides that raises will happen in the spring but doesn’t actually deliver on that promise when the time comes, how is that going to make the employees feel? Like maybe they weren’t worth the money or their boss wasn’t totally honest?

Follow through. Be accountable. Say it and then deliver on it.

Mistake #9: Coasting at Work for Long Periods of Time

Time is always moving, trends are always changing and there are always new developments. Leaders should strive to keep up as best as possible.

There is nothing wrong with taking breaks throughout the day and vacations to recharge. In fact it’s a healthy aspect of work, but coasting for long periods of time is detrimental to you and your staff.

This means taking classes, attending trainings, pushing to be better at the jobs they’re performing. This continual education and professional development shows employees that even leaders need to change or improve habits. After all, that’s what this article is for, right?

Mistake #10: Remaining Rigid and Unforgiving

Let’s face it: Life happens. Traffic gets heavy, commutes are long and sometimes, people just oversleep. There are a million reasons why an employee may be late or why they may need to take a longer lunch or use up their sick time on a Monday morning.

Give employees the flexibility they need to stay sane in both their personal lives and at work. Be compassionate to their needs but expect the work to get done in a timely fashion.

Being a leader comes with lots of opportunities for making these common blunders. However, leaders who make their employees’ happiness a priority are more likely to retain staff and foster a work environment that is friendly and powerful. That sounds like a great leader to work for, doesn’t it?

Now it’s your turn to share a story. What is one small example that you remember from a great boss that you would like to share with us? (Just let us know in the comment section.)

Sarah Landrum is the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to helping others find happiness and success in their careers. Follow her for more inspiring tips at @SarahLandrum

What Can Your Boss Can Learn from a Goose?

Flying V

Have you ever looked up in the sky and noticed one of the most amazing skills any animal possesses?

You’ve probably seen it at least a few times. Geese flying in a V formation is beautiful thing to watch.

It’s teamwork at it’s best.

You remember fifth grade science or probably looked up in the sky and asking one of your parents why do geese fly in a V?

You probably know the answer, but let me explain something first.

Happiness is an ever allusive feeling. You can’t always be happy, but there are ways to make it happen more often. I’m not talking about just popping in a smooth piece of chocolate. Letting it just melt all over your tongue.

I got a little carried away there.

I’m talking about tools that are proven to bring longer lasting happiness to your company. You might be thinking. There is no way my company would create a happiness plan to make us happier.

I get it. I’ve been there.

This might be true, but if you just give up then are you just throwing in the white towel. Are you resigned to an unhappy workplace? If so then you can click away. You shouldn’t waste your time here any longer.

You should be planning your weekends.

Let’s talk about what tools you have to help you bring more happiness back to your work.

I’m not sure if you noticed a trend in the younger workforce. They are buying less things and spending more money on experiences?

Why is this?

Because experiences make us happier, not new things. Experiences build friendships. It’s these friendships that matter to you, not an extra $2,000 in your paycheck. Very rarely will you look back on your life and appreciate the couch that you bought.

So I’m going to ask you a tough question.

What is your company doing to create more positive experiences for you?

They probably know that if they create positive and even stressful experiences for you it creates memories that endear you and your co-workers to the company. Yes, that means employees stay longer and work harder because of the attachment they feel for the company. It’s up to you if you want to share that information with your boss.

Ok, so they probably should buy you and your team a trip to Bali for a team building getaway, it would be nice, but probably won’t happen. What they might do is thank you for wanting to make the team happier and more productive.

That’s where my new “Work Happy Now Emergency Kit – Break in case of stress overload” comes in handy. Every company deals with stress, but it’s how you deal with it that makes the biggest difference for your employees. It’s in Beta right now, but the feedback so far has been wonderful.

I need a few more leaders who want to bring more fun and happiness to their teams. Are you interested? Click here to get the first 6 modules that can help your manager improve the culture at work and help you to become more engaged.

Managing employees used to be hard. Then I tried this…

leadership coaching

When I left the corporate world I thought managing people was impossible. When I was asked to take a lead on projects many employees didn’t want to do what I asked. I was lucky if they did half of what I asked.

I remember when my father coached my soccer team when I was in 6th grade. I yelled at another player because he was out of position and the other team scored. He called me over and asked me if I thought that helped my teammate. I shook my head no. It took a long time for that lesson to sink in.

I wasn’t wise enough to see my mistakes. I didn’t understand how to lead.

I now look back and wished I would have allowed people the flexibility to do great work, encouraged them to find new ways to improve and had more fun leading them.

There is no way for me to go back and change anything, but I can at least help you be a better leader.

It starts with thinking of yourself as a coach instead of a manager. Most people don’t want to be managed. They want someone to help guide them to be their best.

When I started my own business I thought my managing days were over. I could do what I wanted when I wanted without worrying about what other people thought of me.

As my time grew more crunched I had to be more efficient. I couldn’t do everything myself. In the past year I’ve hired a…

  • Web designer
  • Ebook designer
  • Copywriter
  • Editor
  • Nanny

I hired these people to take work off my plate. I did my due diligence before I hired someone, but I made a huge mistake.

The people I hired were smart, talented and passionate. All the right ingredients.

But my first hire failed.

Now instead of blaming them and just hiring someone else right away. I took a step back and took a hard look at my hiring process. I looked back through my emails, notes, and thought about our conversations, I realized my mistake.

I wasn’t giving them any guidance. People don’t want to be managed. They want to be coached to be their best self. People want the freedom to do great work.

“Accountability increases the positive impact of coaching conversations and solidifies their rightful place as keys to organizational effectiveness.” – Monique Valcour of the Harvard Business Review

Employees want to understand and appreciate the vision and help build upon it. Not be micromanaged or feel confused by their choices. They want to create something and see progress toward it every single day.

So if you are a manager who wants more productivity out of your employees I suggest focusing on these questions:

Special notice: Does your business need more effective and loyal employees? Then signup for the first 6 modules of the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit – Break in case of stress overload. It will explain the importance of creating a great culture and how to encourage more engagement as a leader at work.

Ask your employees:

  1. What can I do to make your happier?

Wouldn’t you’ve loved to hear this question from your boss? I know I would have.

The more barriers you remove from people’s work day the less stress they have. For example if you have a meeting every Thursday at 10am, right when everyone starts to get in the zone, and you ask them to stop what they are doing to attend, then you are making it difficult for them to do great work.

Then ask yourself:

  1. How can I help them see their progress?

Career progress is maybe the most important aspect of happiness at work. Employees want to understand that their hard work is making a positive impact.

  1. How can I create positive experiences?

Young people don’t want new cars. They want experiences that help them feel connected to the people they work with. People stay at a job when the have a deeper connection with one person. How can you build upon these connections?

  1. Does my team have core values in place?

Core values are vital to growing together as a team. If people don’t have similar values then it’s harder to get along. By writing down core values with your team they will use these core values to make smarter decisions.

  1. Do I have a feedback loop in place?

It’s great that you asked them how you can make them happier. I bet they love hearing that question. If you only do this every 12 months then you are missing out on a lot of coaching opportunities and chances to learn from your employees. The best managers allow everyone to have input and allow the best ideas to rise to the top.

Being a better coach isn’t easy. There will be times you won’t listen as well as you should, but if you practice I promise you will be rewarded with more loyal employees who go the extra mile.

If you want to learn how to be a better coach to your employees then look into websites like the one I linked. I’m helping Tim grow his course because I believe coaching at work is a vital tool all great managers need.

5 Steps to Creating an Inspiring Workplace

inspiring business quotes

She killed off our company’s monthly meeting.

It was how she killed it that was her big mistake.

And it was this mistake that eventually ousted her as the company’s CEO.

The monthly meeting was a time for people to bond that either normally wouldn’t see each other. It was at best a tolerable experience, but one that was necessary to keeping our company together.

She killed the meeting by just letting it fade away. People whispered about why it stopped happening, but there was no explanation.

Every person/organization is guided by a set of core values that helped them make quality decisions. The company never had any core values. We had a generic vision and mission statement, but no core values.

I now realize that if this company I worked for had core values in place there would have been more people watching for the company’s health. They would have been more likely to say something when the company began to decline.

The core values of a company is the foundation that can support a great company. If they aren’t created, shared, talked about, and used then a company can easily lose its way.

These core values should also be created by department/team in the organization. An IT department will have different core values than the marketing department.

So let’s look at what you can do to create your own core values so when the company needs help there will be people there to step up.

Here is the 5 step process to create core values at your company:

  1. Ask Your Employees What They Think the Company/Team Believes In

Your employees have a very solid idea of what the company stands for. You need to capture these ideas and incorporate them into your core values. When you incorporate your employees’ ideas into what the company believes in you get a stronger document that employees can use to guide their choices.

As you think about putting your core values all in one place you must ask yourself what you believe the company believes in. The creator of the document needs to take the task very seriously. That’s why founders and CEO’s should be a major influencer in how the document reads. They created and run the company because they believed in the vision and impact the company can and does have on the world.

  1. Compile all the Best Values into One Document

Now that you have everyone’s input, put all the ideas into one document. See how they look and feel. Don’t feel you need to create this document in one week. This should be a process that happens over time so you can capture the true soul of the company.

  1. Combine Similar Values Together

Many of the ideas will be similar. Look at how you can combine them into one value. Is there a theme that two or more values can fit into one?

  1. Be Efficient with Your Values (5 – 10 work best for most companies)

I encourage companies to create no more than 10 values because too many values and they lose their impact. You want a concise, economical and memorable list that really gets to the heart of the company’s beliefs.

  1. Publish Your Core Values Internally and Externally

When you have your core values list. I always suggest that people publish them for employees and customers to see. Zappos puts their core values all over their building. They are a constant reminder of how employees should act and grow.

Honest Company does the same thing. They call them “Our Principles”.

When your company puts out its core values into the world, your people will challenge themselves to live up to the values that everyone created.

Bonus tip: Review Your Core Values Once a Year

As your company grows you should talk about your company’s core values should be discussed. Talking about why they exist and how they helped guide choices can reinforce the importance of having everyone live by the core values of the company.

Does your company have a set of values that helps guide employees’ choices as they navigate their work?

You can learn more about how to incorporate core values into your company improving happiness and engagement. Just click here and we can set up a consultation to see what happiness tools you can use at your company.

P.S. This is not meant to be a quick fix. Core values should be the start of building a company that believes in it’s mission to make people’s lives better by improving what they create.

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.

7 Tips Your Managers Could Use to Increase Employee Happiness and Productivity

Listening to employees

If you could tell your manager just one thing he or she could improve on to make your workplace better for you and your colleagues, what would it be?

And how would you feel if this manager took your suggestion to heart and actually started improving this aspect of their leadership? You would probably feel very lucky to have this type of manager and this type of relationship with them.

Ok, so most managers could probably improve on more than one aspect of their managing style, but who doesn’t have multiple things about their working style that they could improve on. So starting with the most important thing first is usually the best place to start.

Managers play a big role in whether a company is successful, so if they don’t have the right tools, training and passion, the whole company will suffer. And a suffering company means lost happiness and along with that, lost profits

So, whether you are the CEO of your company trying to improve your employees’ happiness or you are young and new to a company, you all have one thing in common. You want your managers to keep improving.

Quick Story

I once worked for a tyrant of a boss. His bullying ways crushed the enthusiasm I had for my work.

A month into the job, he asked me to research buying minor league hockey jerseys from a nearby team. It wasn’t for work, just a task for him personally. I researched their website and called for some information and then gave him the report. He looked over the information and asked me what size the jerseys came in. I didn’t know. I hadn’t seen it on their website, and I hadn’t known to ask when I called.

He told me a monkey could do a better job than me. Slap! Right in the kisser. The sad part is I stayed there for another 1.5 years before I finally left.

Because of his crushing criticism, I gave up on trying to do anything well there. And it’s especially sad because I hurt myself as much as I hurt the company with my bad attitude. Instead of adding to my superpowers, I regressed.

Many people had tried to talk with him about his bullying, but he didn’t really listen. I guess listeningor changing wasn’t in his nature.

Which leads me to my 5 tips that a good manager uses with his or her employees.

1. Develop a Feedback Loop

Asking and listening to employees about what is going well and what isn’t going so well is so important to making them feel heard. If they don’t feel heard, they stop believing they matter.

Creating a simple feedback loop is the perfect place to start. I’ve recently worked with a company where we created an online Google doc where employees could voice their opinion and be anonymous if they wanted. They could just fill in the opinion section and leave the name prompt blank.

The CEO would then put the questions in a Word doc, answer the questions, and post his answers on their intranet and also email everyone a PDF.

We did create rules around submitting feedback. The questions, complaints, ideas, and appreciation had to be constructive, which meant no foul language, name-calling or pointing fingers. If an employee had a complaint, they also had to offer a solution.

The results have been positive and people have been respectful. One of the keys has been being consistent. Even when no one had filled out the form, the CEO sent out a message with an idea of his own, or just wrote that there were no questions that week.

Are you a manager that needs help developing a feedback loop that works? Contact me today to find out how I can help you unlock your employee’s superpowers.

2. Leverage Your Superpowers

You most likely have superpowers that aren’t being fully utilized at work. We all have passions, focus and strengths that aren’t utilized to our full potential. We get caught in treading water instead of striving for excellence.

How might you carve out time to leverage your superpowers for just 30 minutes every day?

Let’s say writing is one of your superpowers, but you are in the accounting department. What project is important to the company that you contribute to with your writing skills?

You need to test out if your potential superpower is a good fit for your company’s needs. When you can get a better understanding of what your company needs and how you can help meet that need using your superpowers, then you can create a win-win relationship.

The more win-win scenarios you can create in your career, the more successful you will be and the more leverage you will create, which means being able to pick and choose the projects you want to work on more often.

Do you need help working closer to your values and leveraging your superpowers? If so, check out the Unlock Your Superpowers Manifesto and 7 part course so you can develop your career into something that makes you happier and more successful.

3. Share Their Vision with You

Managers usually have a good idea of where they want their department to go, but they often don’t communicate it adequately to their staff. A good manager lays out the goals for the year, keeps track of how close the team gets to reaching them or exceeding them, and helps people understand what is expected of them on a frequent basis. We’ll talk about why this matters in #6.

Vision is important because your manager is a leader, not only a project leader, but an emotional leader as well. If they can’t help you and the whole team understand where they want the ship to head and why, no one will want to support their ideas.

If you want to help your team and your manager is open to it, the best place to start is to help your manager understand why they do what they do, help them map out a plan for the next 3, 6, and 12 months, and start to define what it will take to reach tho goals.

If you can assist your manager in clarifying their goals and timelines and how each member of the team can best contribute to the success of the team, when they share that vision with the team, it will help everyone get on board with where the team needs to go and how to best get from the current point A to the future point B.

4. Develop Emotional Connections Through Their Core Values

You might have seen me talk about core values on Domino Connection, my customer connection blog. People like buying from companies that have strong core values, and that can strongly influence their decisions.

Employees also like following managers that have strong core values because the employees understand why the managers make the decisions they do. The employees might not always agree, but at least they know why a decision was made.

I invite you to think about past or present managers with whom you got along well. I guarantee they were able to convey their core values effectively.

For example, who wouldn’t want to work hard for a manager whose core value is fairness. When people are evaluated based on the results they generate instead of nepotism or cronyism or prior friendship, it makes working hard much more rewarding.

If you want your manager to help your team explore core values that can help the team gel together, the best place to start is to ask a question about core values in a meeting. If you can come up with core values as a group, it can be quite a driving force for the team.

5. Explain the Expectations You Have for Them

One of the biggest complaints employees have for their managers is the lack of clear expectations. A manager that makes communication a priority and explains what they expect from his or her employees. helps an employee understand his or her role at work, and they know what is part of their work and what isn’t.

If you are unclear of what is expected of you at work, I suggest asking your manager for more specifics. This conversation can be difficult, but it’s better than the alternative of hoping that you are working on the right tasks and projects.

6. Include Employees on Goals

You’ve probably heard stories about managers that allow their employees to provide input on what their goals are for the year. This is a powerful tactic to develop more personal responsibility in team members. i.e. when employees help create their goals for success, they feel more responsible for reaching those goals.

The key is to make this a collaborative relationship. You and your manager should set out the criteria of where you want to be in 12 months, then discuss how you can get there.

If you have a clear goal, you can outline what this plan will look like on a weekly or monthly basis. Having a mutually agreed upon plan between you and your manager is much more empowering for you instead of just being told what is expected of you.

7. Gather the Team Together to Bond

A good manager makes time for the team to bond in order to reach its goals. If there are no emotional connections, then there is less teamwork and communication.

Teamwork is essential for a team to reach its goals, so what activities does your team have to gather and bond, and how can your manager foster even more team interaction?

The best advice is to schedule it.

A manager who wants to foster team cohesion and productivity could schedule a team brainstorming session from time to time (called a retrospective in the software world for people doing what is called “scrum”).

A good manager could also have a team meeting every month and encourage people to discuss what is working and what is not. You could buy lunch and have an informal discussion of the team status. A manager could even invite people out to happy hour then pay the first 2 rounds of drinks per person then take off because they want the team to bond with each other. They are the ones that need to work together to ensure the success of the team goals.

Next Steps

These are just some of the ideas I have and have learned for team building by management. If you want more team building ideas from an employee-initiated or manager perspective, please feel free to email me and we can set up a time to chat.

If you can encourage your manager or especially a CEO to pick even one of these ideas and give it a try, please let me know the results.

If you are an employee that wants to improve communication and happiness in your department, but don’t know howto get your manager to think about implementing the concept of core values in your workplace, talk to some other trusted employee who may be able to help you in this endeavor.

It’s all about baby steps. You don’t want to overwhelm your manager. So just start a very casual dialog around the concept of core values and whether they can explain what theirs are, and if they can, how it can help improve the productivity of everyone under them at work.

Your Turn

What would you add to the list? What have you seen work well for your managers?

* Do you need one-on-one help. I offer a career coaching package that helps you unlock your superpowers, so you can create a happier and more successful career.

5 Leadership Lessons Learned From Remarkable Bosses

At some point in our lives, we’ve all had The Boss From Hell: the control freak, the personal-email snoop, the guy or gal who times your bathroom breaks and deducts the time you spend at the water cooler from your paycheck.

But what about the other kind of boss? The kind who actually treats you like a real human being instead of warm body?

Truly exemplary bosses are few and far between, but the good news is, like true love, they exist. And also like true love, a really remarkable boss might come your way once in a lifetime.

What Makes a Truly Remarkable Boss?

One thing that separates a remarkable boss from an ordinary boss is that they have a personal code of ethics that they stick to, come what may. We’re not talking about the boss who walks around the office in a ‘Save the Whales’ T-shirt, rattling a collection box and singing Kumbayah. But rather the boss who, when the going gets tough, proves that they are worthy of their title of leader.
[Read more…]

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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Why Safety Needs to be a Company Priority

Healthy workers are happier workers.

When a business demonstrates to their employees that they care about each person’s individual health and wellbeing, it results in increased morale and productivity. But when a business doesn’t emphasize safety, the impacts of a work related accident can be felt for years.

A colleague of mine has a desk job that he enjoys, but Lou once had a lucrative job as a forklift driver at a lettuce processing plant. The job was fast paced, and emphasized high productivity and long hours at the expense of safety as forklifts buzzed from room to room at high speed with full loads on their pallets.
[Read more…]