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.

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.
[Read more…]

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.
[Read more…]

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.
[Read more…]

The Secrets to Workplace Leadership

shh-leadershipI shared a drink with a friend who manages a team of five people. He was wondering how people’s moods can fluctuate in such a broad range, which affects the quality of their work. One of his employees is always up and down. He is engaged with his work one week and then he seems to lose interest. His interest fluctuates and he isn’t sure why.

We all have this problem it’s just that most of us force ourselves to stay focused. My friend told me that he has tried giving this employee various kinds of work to see what interests him, but that didn’t work either.

I asked him if he ever sits down with his staff to explain the reasoning behind the work.

He said he didn’t. He never really thought of that because it’s pretty obvious to him. They need to design websites that exceed the customer’s expectations.

He was losing out on a huge opportunity. People often stop looking at the larger picture because they get comfortable. This comfortable feeling reduces their desire to go above and beyond the normal effort.

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.
– E-science news gathered this information from 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 might help your employees/coworkers to connect with their work.
[Read more…]

Wine Company is Buzzing about Work Happy Now

artlogo_gifI love a forward thinking company. Artesano is definitely that. They are making honey (mead) wine from start to finish.

They make everything from scratch. They let the bees make the honey (Yes, they have their own bee farm in Vermont). They believe in high quality ingredients and excellent taste.

When I contacted Nichole, one of the owners, about helping them with their work happiness, I wasn’t sure what to expect. She was excited about the concept; I didn’t even have to do the hard sell.

We held the seminar on Sunday. Yes, I work on Sundays if that’s the best time for my client. Read their testimonial about my presentation – Karl Staib Presents His Work Happy Now Message.
[Read more…]

What do I do if I’m unhappy at Work?

Every person becomes unhappy at work at some time or another. It’s the natural emotional ebb and flow of being human. Even the best job has its problems.

You probably have certain expectations that can’t be met. These expectations must be emotionally bridged or you will constantly be grasping for unattainable happiness.

This article is not about settling for a crappy job. That’s the furthest thing from my mind. I believe you need to use your superpowers at work so you can optimize our present happiness while planning your most rewarding future.

Superpowers are actions that excite you, get you in the zone, and play to your strengths. If you aren’t using your superpowers at work you are missing out on doing meaningful work that will engage every part of your mind.

First you must allow yourself to feel and understand your present situation. A good scream or a good cry can cleanse the mind. It all depends on the person. When you allow yourself to feel the emotion that is blocking you from moving on, then you can accept your current situation.

After accepting this emotion, you have limitless ability to learn from this process.

The only way to understand what type of work will bring you the most happiness in the future is to understand your present self. That means dealing with your emotions and building internal tools.

Learn to watch your emotions when they occur, then create a plan that will help you explore and encourage personal growth. Some of this may be painful, but believe me it’s a good pain. It’s this pain that will help make you smarter and emotionally stronger. I don’t mean stronger as in more stoic. I define emotional strength as the ability to process emotions and bring the mind back into balance.

After studying videos, articles, myself, and my co-workers, I’ve put together a list of 8 tasks that will help you work happier.

  1. Find meaning.
  2. Become more aware of self-talk.
  3. Don’t take interactions personally.
  4. Help someone else become happy.
  5. Remember 3 good things.
  6. Utilize Smart Breaks.
  7. Speak up and take Action.
  8. Use More of Your Strengths.

These are concepts that are easy to understand, but may be hard to implement. You’ll need to practice these to make sure they become a part of you. I’ll break them down so you can apply them to your working life.

[Read more…]

Make Every Employee Feel Cool

I have a co-worker who just finished a big project. She was bouncing off the walls with giddiness. She took the project to her boss and it was confirmed. She did a fantastic job. She came back to her cubicle with a huge smile on her face.

 “I feel like my stress just floated away,” Alice said.

“Cool, so she liked it,” I said.

“Liked it? She loved it!”

She was on cloud nine for the rest of the afternoon. She poked fun at me, herself, and anyone talking to her. Just her playful style. Her energy couldn’t be suppressed.

[Read more…]

Why Fish Philosophy Works

Pikes Place, a fish market in Seattle, is known for its fun style of business. They toss fish around as if they were footballs.

They have a sign that says, “Caution: Low Flying Fish.” Any business that has a sign about low flying product must be having fun. The employees love working there because they are engaged and willing to “ham” it up. The allow people to have fun and hire people according to their superpowers. They make sure that their employees are excited about creating a great experience.

People from all over visit this historic place to buy fish and watch the show. So it also attracts customers who are looking to buy quality fish and have a fun experience.

Do you want to retain your best employees and have more fun at work? You should probably check out the first 6 modules of the Work Happy Now Emergency Kit. It has three main sections: team building ideas, games you can play with your co-workers, and how to create a more positive attitude.

 

Everybody wins!

John Christensen noticed the magic at Pike’s Place and created a documentary called “Fish!” which then spawned the book Fish Philosophy. There are four main concepts that Fish Philosophy focuses on. They are…

Be There

An employee who is engaged in his/her work isn’t concerned about anything, but the job at hand. They are there to do good work. It’s hard to put ourselves in the moment, but the more we can get lost in the work the more fun it is.

“It means getting out of your own ‘world’ so you can BE THERE for someone else. It means setting aside emotional baggage from the past, and worries about the future in order to appreciate the opportunities you have available to you, right now.”

- Fish Philosophy handout

Choose Your Attitude

What we choose to focus on will determine how we feel. If all we do is complain about making more money or wanting a better boss, we are creating a negative mindset. If we choose to focus on our wonderful co-workers and how we enjoy the work that we do, we are choosing to see the positive in our situation.

“Most of us believe our attitudes are caused directly by outside influences like unpleasant experiences or negative people. But while external pressures may trigger our feelings, we are the ones wearing those feelings like a suit of clothes. We can either be subservient to external events, few of which we have any control over, or we can take charge of our own response.”

- Fish Philosophy website

Make Their Day

We talk about the importance of gratitude on this site, specifically giving gratitude to others. Gratitude makes the giver feel good as well as the person who receives the compliment. When we stop worrying about how we are going to be happy at work and focus on helping others be happy, the byproduct is that our happiness increases.

“At a deeper level, “make their day” means taking a genuine interest in the unique gifts of others. Spontaneous or planned, when you make the effort to brighten someone’s day—not because you want a reward, but because that’s the person you want to be—you receive an internal gift that makes life even more meaningful as well. No matter what, making someone’s day is a win-win. Every single time.”

- Fish Philosophy website

Play

Having fun at work is a must. If all a company does is make products and push them down people’s throats then work is a drag.

“An ‘all-business’ approach has a human cost: It’s not inspiring. We shut down emotionally and many who might make creative contributions keep that part of themselves at home.”

- Fish Philosophy handout

Fish Philosophy and Work Happiness Go Hand in Hand

When we work in the now (Be There), stop complaining and start noticing the good in our lives (Choose Attitude), recognize the importance of giving gratitude (Make their Day), and have fun at work (Play), then we are creating a work life that makes us happy.

And we all know happy employees give the best results.

*

As you know employee engagement is so important to creating an environment that supports employees emotional needs, so check out David Zinger’s blog that focuses on creating more engaged employees.

*

If you enjoy the content on at this blog then stay updated by subscribing to my RSS feed.

If you like this article I have a good feeling you’ll enjoy:

Empower the Employees to Improve the Company

Google has an internal website called “Google Ideas.”  Googlers submit their suggestions on how to improve a product or how to make things better at Google. Their co-workers can read this site and give their feedback by rating the suggestion and leaving comments. Management monitors this website very closely so they can stay abreast of their employees’ feelings.

Opinions Matter

Your company can create an expressive outlet for your employees. This will empower them to make suggestions that will probably help the company function better, creating engagement and loyalty.

You need to show your employees that their opinions matter.

[Read more…]

Like Us On Facebook