Happy Workers Are Satisfied And More Productive
Effective leaders know that creating an environment where teams are happy is not just a nice idea, it is a critical business imperative. One study found that those happiest at work are a staggeringly 47% more productive at work compared with those who are least happiest, and, perhaps more importantly, 180% happier with life in general.
I was reminded recently of the huge cost to organisations of unhappy staff when I was running a series of workshops in an organisation. The discussion was around whether it was a realistic expectation for people to be passionate about their work. A bright and articulate young woman commented that for most people having work that involved some aspects they enjoyed was a much more realistic expectation. I wanted to cry, or scream, or both! I couldn’t bear to see someone with so much potential settling for so much less than she was capable of, not necessarily in terms of climbing a corporate ladder, but in terms of achieving greater job and life satisfaction.
As I reflected out loud on my career, I shared that my job satisfaction was not linked to the type of organisation I worked for, but to how well the work aligned with my own strengths and passions. I have been equally passionate working for large bureaucracies as I am currently working for myself, and if I ever found myself in a role that I wasn’t able to be passionate about, I set the wheels in motion to move to a role I could be passionate about.
Much research has been conducted about the positive impacts when work aligns closely with individual strengths. Outcomes include greater productivity, increased confidence and higher levels of perseverance, which all add up to more frequent and significant success. But how do we as leaders, discover our own strengths and help our team members discover theirs? In their book, How to Be Exceptional, Zenger, Folman, Sherwin and Steel offer the following questions to gain clarity and I have added a few:
- What do I feel most competent doing?
- Do I have strengths in the embryo stage?
- What am I reasonably effective at doing?
- What do I most frequently receive positive feedback about?
- What did I enjoy doing as a child?
- Where do I experience a sense of “flow,” where I am so involved in and enjoying a task that I become unaware of anything else?
Another great way to get insight about strengths is to email five people you trust and ask them to tell you what they think your top strengths are. Stay open because you may not be the best judge of your own strengths and help your team in seeking clarity about their own.