Have you ever been in a workplace where there is one ‘energy sucker’? Someone who is pessimistic, frustrated, angry or cynical or doesn’t pull their weight? When they leave what happens? It’s as if the sun comes out! People laugh, are productive again and teams collaborate well. Performance soars.
Or think about a job you left. Did you leave the job – or the boss?
Customers who rave about your company don’t rave about your company – they rave about how your people made them feel.
Duh…It’s all about feelings!
These are examples of why joy at work really matters to the bottom line. Joy is a complex feeling.
In the last 12 years, a number of scientific fields have been revealing new secrets about how humans really function. And guess what? As Daniel Pink says, “there is a mismatch between what science knows and business does.” The world has changed – but in most cases, business has not!
We still try to ‘manage’ people in the same old ways. But people are different. They demand more. They want to feel valued; to feel that what they do matters and makes a difference; that there is some purpose and meaning to what they do. They want to feel some sense of autonomy in their work and daily activities, and that they are growing and developing – not just their skills but also as people. They also want to feel that their boss cares for them; that the company they work for is socially responsible and to feel engaged and enthusiastic about their work – note, their WORK NOT JUST A JOB! More on that later.
In essence, for success in the corporate world, everything – everything – is really dependent on feelings.
Of course, a clear strategy and structure and processes have to be in place‚Ä¶but companies still say ‘people are the most important aspect of a business’. No, it’s not!
How people FEEL is the most important aspect of a business!
How people feel about themselves, their job, their boss, colleagues, company and customers is critical for performance. People want to feel they belong. To feel they are doing work that makes a difference and to believe in what they are doing. To feel they are cared for and growing and developing.
OK, so what about money?
As Simon Sinek in his excellent book “Start With Why” says: “people who don’t believe what you believe, work for the money.”
Firstly, people must be paid a fair rate for what they are doing. That gets the money out of the way. The research shows that once people are earning enough money to cover their needs, and being paid what they consider a fair rate are not motivated by money or bonuses. Except in cases where it is non creative work. Read Daniel Pink’s book DRIVE for more detailed information about money as motivation, and why the carrot and stick approach to motivation is outdated, and in many cases detrimental to performance.
So once the money is out of the way, almost everything else performance wise boils down to feelings.
Joy at work and why it matters.
Because the feeling of joy encompasses all the feelings that people are wanting.
A plethora of books have been published about happiness at work, why it’s important, and the accumulated research from the field of positive psychology, are strengthening the argument that joy at work matters – critically – for the bottom line.
Engagement, innovation, creativity, and inspiration are buzz words that have been focused on, but creating an environment in which people can achieve high levels of these is not specifically cultivated. These states are all about feelings. You feel motivated, inspired, enthusiastic and excited about what you do. That means we enjoy work. We are engaged.
A very successful, multi-billion dollar global company called Barry Wehmiller runs it’s business on the credo “we are developing great people to do extraordinary things.” Every decision they make and action they take is filtered through this credo – and it works because everyone believes it and consequently acts on it. It makes people feel good about what they do and the company; they are genuinely being supported in their growth and development; they feel they belong and are making a contribution, and they help each other in the pursuit of ‘extraordinary things’.
The field of positive psychology tells us that it’s positive feelings that are critical for flourishing workplaces – joyful feelings!
Fear – the enemy of productivity – and joy
The enemy of joy is fear and a workplace ruled by fear or full of fear is an unproductive, high turnover, political, miserable place.
The elements of joy are gratitude, compassion, hope, reverence, generosity, listening, laughter, energy and vitality, forgiveness, cheerful enthusiasm, love and equanimity. All of which are essential leadership qualities.
These words in different versions are appearing more and more in business magazines and literature – because they are the new competitive advantage.
If you are a leader and create an environment in which people can:
- FEEL good about what they do
- FEEL good about themselves
- FEEL good about their colleagues
- FEEL good about customers
- FEEL good about you
- FEEL they belong
- Work without fear
- Have a sense of purpose and meaning
- Believe in what they are doing and what the company represents.
You will have begun to create a joyful, super productive workplace.
You will stand out from the crowd.
YOU will be joyful as well!