effectiveness

Build Your Leadership Cache: The Wall Street Journal Picks the Best Books of 2011

With a steady stream of terrific leadership advice hitting bookstores and inboxes, how do you prioritize your reading? Do you wonder which leadership books will help you make the most difference in your organization? Check out the latest recommendations from The Wall Street Journal here. One recommendation is “The Progress Principal” by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, published by Harvard Business Review Press. Read it and you’ll learn what enhances a worker’s “inner work life”—the stuff that inspires and motivates them to be more productive and creative, among other positive outcomes.

Let me give you a hint: let your workers make meaningful progress at work.

Sounds simple enough, but in the 15 years that Amabile and Kramer collected confidential data from 238 professionals at seven companies (totaling nearly 12,000 days), they gained a laser focus on what frustrates employees, de-motivates them, makes them hate their boss and prompts them to sabotage the success of their employer—and conversely, what motivates them toward better performance, loyalty and innovation.

So how do you facilitate your employees’ feeling of making meaningful progress at work?

Step 1: Allow pride of accomplishment. People want to make a valuable contribution, and feel great when they make progress toward doing so. Knowing this progress principle is the first step to knowing how to boost an employee’s work life. This must be harder than it sounds, as in the work diaries, on one-third of those 12,000 days, the person writing the diary was either unhappy at work, de-motivated by the work, or both. One of the most egregious examples was a head of product development, who routinely moved people on and off projects like chess pieces in a game for which only he had the rules.

Step 2: Set smaller goals to create a sense of movement toward achieving larger goals. This naturally follows the first step. By setting smaller, achievable goals and allowing workers the autonomy to meet them, workers feel a sense of accomplishment and progress. This goes a long way toward increasing motivation and performance.

Step 3: Give recognition for good work. One of the most common mistakes managers make is to assume their employees are doing just fine—or that “bad morale” was a result of poor work ethics or undesirable personality traits. A manager’s actions and words set the tone for the entire organization, and without their recognizing good work, there is little sense of accomplishment and motivation to perform.

Step 4: Encourage and reward transparency. When you hear about problems within the ranks, listen and take action. Don’t deny. Here’s a great example from Amabile and Kramer’s research. In an open Q&A with one company’s chief operating officer, an employee asked about the morale problem and got this answer: “There is no morale problem in this company. And, for anybody who thinks there is, we have a nice big bus waiting outside to take you wherever you want to look for work.” How’s that for a motivator? Makes me want to work for that manager—not!

While Amabile and Kramer’s research doesn’t provide any great new insights, it does drive home concepts that leadership gurus have been preaching for years. Provide meaningful work. Let your employees make progress toward achievable goals. And set the tone for success by recognizing and rewarding good work.

If your business could benefit by leveraging management practices that enhance employee work life, contact Capiche. We specialize in working with businesses and organizations to build high performing teams and to create a culture of productivity and innovation. Or tell us what is working for you! We hope to hear from you soon.

Photo: Image by Dan

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday
13
March 2012
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is Anyone Sick of Happiness at Work? I’m Not, and Here’s Why

Happiness at work is a big topic these days. I spoke to a packed room at the Medford Rotary about it just last week. Even with unemployment still looming large, most people are carrying 150% or more of the workload they were hired for. Companies are cutting their workforce without lowering the expected output. Someone needs to pick up the slack. How can employees stay positive and how can a company justify investing in workforce engagement programs?

How can they not? 

The billboard you see above is posted all over the San Francisco Bay area. There are many terrific books on happiness at work, and more and more articles continue to be published as the research continues. Just Google “happiness at work” and you will find articles in Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Business ReviewPsychology Today, etc. There is even a great LinkedIn group that I belong to called ‘Happy at Work.’ Check it out!

According to one of my favorite happiness gurus, Shawn Achor, “Nearly every company in the world gives lip service to the idea that ‘our people are our greatest asset’. Yet when the Conference Board Survey came out last year, employees were the unhappiest they have been in their 22 years of tracking job satisfaction rates. Around the same time, CNNMoney reported a survey that indicated 84% of Americans are unhappy with their current job. Mercer’s “What’s Working” survey found that one in three US employees are serious about leaving their current jobs.”

Why is this lack of happiness at work important? Job satisfaction is not only the key predictor of turnover rates. In The Happiness Advantage, former Harvard University professor Achor makes the research case for the fact that the single greatest advantage in the modern economy is a happy and engaged workforce. A decade of research proves that happiness raises nearly every business and educational outcome: raising sales by 37%, productivity by 31%, and accuracy on tasks by 19%, as well as a myriad of health and quality of life improvements. Yet even those companies that do take leadership training seriously still ignore the role that happiness plays in leadership effectiveness.

So the secret is out! Happiness, job satisfaction and fulfillment, and employee engagement are WIN-WIN situations for employees and employers. How does your company invest in yours?

(Photo credit to: Anne Espiritu – Google+ http://bit.ly/pElTPu.)

Sunday
22
January 2012
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is Happiness a Luxury Small Businesses Can’t Afford?

As I am preparing for next week’s “Leveraging the Science of Happiness at Work” presentation to the Rogue Valley Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), I’m reflecting on a comment a Facebook friend made the other day when I shared results from a Wall Street Journal survey on happiness in the workplace.

She wrote, “As a small business-owner, no matter the type of business, my primary concern is to make a living, to pay my staff, my taxes and my vendors. Since 2008 when the recession slammed all of us, it’s been a very, very hard slog. Like many other businesses, we’ve laid off employees and we’ve cut costs to the bone. I’m concerned about survival – of my business and of my family. Frankly, ‘happiness’ on the job is merely a luxury, an afterthought that I cannot afford.”

I expect that many people are feeling the same way. What business owners don’t understand is that happiness at work – defined as “a mindset that enables action to maximize performance and achieve potential” – actually saves them money.  In fact, research has proven it can enhance revenue.

Empirical research by iOpeners Institute for People and Performance, involving 9,000 people from around the world, reveals some astonishing findings. Employees who report being happiest at work:

  • Stay twice as long in their jobs as their least happy colleagues
  • Spend double their time at work focused on what they are paid to do
  • Take ten times less sick leave
  • Believe they are achieving their potential twice as much

This means greater outcomes and profits for employers.

And the “science of happiness at work” has big benefits for individuals too. If you’re really happy at work, you’ll solve problems faster, be more creative, adapt fastest to change, receive better feedback, get promoted quicker and earn more over the long-term.

So the next time start to feel that happiness at work is a luxury you can’t afford, think again. Give me a holler if you’d like to see how you can be happier at work. I’ll provide a free individual or team happiness assessment to the first person that contacts me.

 

 

 

Thursday
10
November 2011
Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Most employee problems are directly related to . . .

I’m presenting tomorrow at the University of New Mexico’s Mentoring Institute Conference on Leveraging the Science of Happiness at Work. Excited! Also doing a poster session and getting my paper published in the proceedings. A copy will soon be on this website.  

Today’s offerings opened with renowned researcher and publisher David Clutterbuck. I was pleasantly surprised that most of what he said was a refrain of the learning and research I have been doing – always nice to confirm!

He is colorful and has some pretty interesting points of view. 
1. Most employee problems are directly related to their supervisors. 
2. If succession planning works, then why do the wrong people keep getting to the top (I think his next book is on succession planning). 

Also, he shared some very powerful questions to use in coaching. 
1. What’s the risk in succeeding?
2. How many lies are you telling yourself about this?

He noted that men and women consistently tell themselves different types of lies. I invite you! Who wants to guess what the differences are?

 

Wednesday
26
October 2011
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If Happiness Drives Performance, How Do I Get Happy at Work?

In Happiness at Work: Maximizing your Psychological Capital for Success (2010), author Jessica Pryce-Jones takes her research with more than 3,000 respondents from 79 countries and gets to the heart of what drives happiness and (this is so cool!) found that happiness drives performance.

Happiness at work is defined by Pryce-Jones as a mindset that allows individuals and organizations to maximize performance and achieve their potential. This happens during the highs and low—when working alone or in teams. By mindfully making the best use of the resources you have, you overcome challenges. This not only builds your happiness but also that of others—who will be affected and energized by what you do.

Happiness predicts employee time on task, intent to stay in job, sick time, motivation, engagement, satisfaction, self-belief, and respect for self and others. The Performance-Happiness Model, which was developed based on the above research, has been successfully applied in more than 8,000 cases.

The Performance-Happiness Model

Performance Happiness Model VAt the center of the Performance-Happiness Model is believing that you are achieving your potential. This is important because that belief makes you happy, and the statistics around happy versus unhappy employees are staggering.

Pryce-Jones’ research (2010) shows that the happiest employees compared to their least happy colleagues:

  • are 47% more productive;
  • take on average 1.5 sick days per year compared to the United States average of 6 days per year (in the public sector the sick days range from 11 to 20 days per year);
  • are 108% more engaged;
  • are 50% more motivated;
  • have 180% more energy;
  • have 82% more job satisfaction;
  • are 25% more efficient and effective; and
  • have 25% more self-belief (pp. 28 – 29).

The five strong factors important to achieving your potential at work are the 5Cs: contribution, conviction, culture, commitment, and confidence. Three vital sub-themes giving additional perspective of happiness are trust, recognition, and pride.

Stay tuned as I explore the 5Cs, trust, recognition, and pride in upcoming blogs. And please share examples from your workplace on how you’ve seen the Happiness-Performance Model in action.

 

References

Pryce-Jones, J. (2010). Happiness at work: Maximizing your psychological capital for success. West Sussex, United Kingdom: Wiley-Blackwell.

 

 

Monday
19
September 2011
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Empower Your Team to Boost Performance

Do you stay out of your employees’ way and allow them to problem solve?  If not, consider that you are likely the sort of boss who is a top-down, micromanager. The command-and-control model works well in the military but results in tremendous dysfunction for work teams. Hierarchical control often results in a vicious cycle in which the work team is rendered ineffective and unvalued.

If you are a leader, remember that you have nothing to prove. Let your team be the problem solvers, and show them that you have ideas and advice when needed. Stay out of the way.

 The best leader is the one who listens more than talks. Watch your body language and maintain eye contact with the person speaking. Try to minimize distractions.

Welcome divergent viewpoints and disagreement. Problem-solve as a team, asking for input. Assure your team that all perspectives and solutions are valued, and be sure not to shoot down any thoughts that are shared. Remember that you are not the only one with the answers.

Successful leaders trust and rely on followers to maximize team effectiveness. Your behavior as the leader can either strengthen or destroy the work team. Engage and empower your team, and your organization will enjoy enhanced company performance while increasing team morale and commitment.

Sunday
28
August 2011
Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,