Uncover the ‘happiness factors’ that inspire loyalty

To paraphrase a Sheryl Crow lyric: If it makes you happy, why are you so sad? That’s a question many leaders would like to ask their employees. Some seem to enjoy their tasks, but they’re still dissatisfied with their jobs. Others seem to love the organization and their colleagues, but they’re still restless to move on. What does it take to create all-around happiness? Obviously the answer varies somewhat from person to person. But most experts agree the following seem to be universal “happiness factors” that motivate loyalty and high performance:
  • A caring leader. Survey after survey has shown that disaffected employees don’t leave jobs-they leave bad leaders. So the reverse is also true: Employees aren’t loyal to companies-they’re loyal to their leaders. Employees who believe their leaders are honest, fair, approachable, and concerned for their well-being are more likely to overlook other frustrations.
  • A sense of dignity. Employees need to believe they’re valued for what they bring to the organization. And the best way to demonstrate value is to treat them with respect and appreciation. Seek their input, trust their judgment, praise their accomplishments. These intangible rewards cost you nothing beyond a little time and effort, but they provide immeasurable benefit.
  • A reason for being. People need to feel they’re contributing something valuable to the world at large or at least to their little piece of it. If you can help employees develop a personal connection to your organization’s mission-to believe they have a higher purpose-you can significantly increase their level of contentment.
  • An opportunity to develop. Most people yearn for the chance to get ahead in life-or at least ahead of where they are at any given moment. No matter how much they enjoy their current work, employees need to feel there’s something better waiting for them and that you’ll help them find it.
  • A harmonious environment. Almost as important as having a likeable leader is having likeable colleagues. If employees feel they’re surrounded by people who are negative, bickering, and unethical, they’ll either begin to adopt the same undesirable behaviors-or they’ll start looking for a way out.
~Adapted from “Seven things employees want most to be happy at work,” by Marilyn Gardner


Persuade employees to profit from feedback

 To some employees, no matter how constructive the feedback, they perceive it as negative. How can you convince feedback-phobic employees that you’re trying to help them? Share these strategies suggested by Jay M. Jackman and Myra H. Strober’s article “Fear of Feedback,” in the Harvard Business Review:
  • Look on the bright side. Deliver constructive criticism in a way that stresses the things they’re doing right and provides a blueprint for building on their success. If they start to fret about the negatives, help them reframe the information with the emphasis on the positive. For instance, “Yes, you have fallen behind on design, but you’re ahead of the curve on implementation.”
  • Start with a spoonful. One reason people fail at their New Year’s resolutions is because they resolve to change too many things at once. Don’t provide a laundry list of undesirable behaviors, then leave employees to figure out where to start making improvements. Instead, work with them to set small, manageable goals.
  • Never fear. If employees seem to think you’re picking on them, maybe it’s because they’re threatened by constructive criticism. Try to get them to open up about their fears. Are they afraid any negative feedback is a prelude to termination? Are they afraid they don’t have what it takes to live up to your expectations? Help them develop a more realistic and less alarmist view of the feedback process.
  • Help is on the way. Employees sometimes resent feedback because they feel you’re asking the impossible and not providing the means to attain it. Encourage them to be honest about obstacles that might prevent them from improving, and make sure they know you’ll work with them to provide the support they need.
~Adapted from “Management training: How to overcome the seven most common pitfalls of coaching”

Ask these questions to improve your productivity

Have you been feeling a lot like the hamster on the wheel lately – always running and getting nowhere? Maybe it would help increase your productivity to ask yourself the following questions:
  • Am I spending my time wisely? Perhaps the reason you can’t seem to achieve your goals is because they’re at odds with your core values. If you don’t really want to get where you’re going, you’ll find ways to take detours.
  • Have I left anything undone? Half-finished tasks linger in the back of your mind, acting as quiet distractions that keep you from fully focusing on new projects. Set aside time to close those chapters before moving on to new ones.
~Adapted from “How to improve personal productivity,” by Scott Beagrie