As an addict of the ‘self help’ section in any bookshop even I was astounded to come across a copy of the ‘Happiness for Dummies’ book. It just goes to show that in this era of consumerism that perhaps there is a growing need to find happiness in something other than a Gucci bag, new BMW or a 10 berth ‘Gin Palace’. Not there is anything wrong with gaining short term pleasure through these things, it is when we think that when we buy a Calvin Klein perfume that we are buying lasting happiness.
It is clear from the latest literature on this subject that happiness is many things but certainly not a shopping trip. In the ‘Happiness Trap’ Dr Russ Harris eloquently focuses on developing a healthy and happy mind. He sees that happiness can be accessed through managing thoughts and feelings. In the Positive Psychology movement from the USA, focus on creating positive thoughts and meaning lead us to happiness. This view of happiness being an internal process is, of course, nothing new. Buddhists have been living this for centuries, but the word does now seem to be spreading and seeping in to not only everyday life but organisations. And that really excites me.
When we start to look at the impact of happiness, wellbeing and mood on individuals and organisation performance we open up a whole new variable to influence. When we limit our thinking about performance and see the only drivers as being clear goals, employee alignment and effective systems, we are missing a really important driver, one that is so powerful that it can transform organisations from the ordinary to the extraordinary.
Many organisations may feel that they already address this through cultural programs. I have worked with many organisations that have developed some great ideas around building a performing culture or a culture of excellence yet many seem to be missing the mark. They seem to miss that an important part of the process of engagement is that employees ‘feel good’ when they come to work. Now that doesn’t mean that you have to create a country club environment, in fact this can just lead to even more unhappiness and disengagement. So how do you create the ‘feel good’ factor – an organisations “X Factor”:
- Remember that it is an individual need – everyone has a different currency – so one size DOES NOT fit all.
- Mood (and in particular of the leaders) will have a major impact on the mood of others – remember that moods are contagious
- Small ‘feel good’ moments that are genuine can have bigger impact than grand gestures that lack the personal touch.
- Celebrate together – and use different ways to celebrate so everyone can be involved and included.
- Manage energy – yours and your team. Teach them to pace and take care of their own wellbeing.
- Be open and honest – trust is an important factor in ‘feeling good’ – for your team members knowing that they will can have an honest dialogue with you will take the guessing out of their lives, freeing up more energy to deliver outcomes.
So you could say that I am happy that “Happiness” is having a new resurgence of popularity. Finding a happy state and working in happy organisations should be the norm, not a rarity. We need to find a way to build organisations that are able to combine both. How do you think we could do this? What needs to change? Are our organisations designed to create positive and happy work environments?