Happier @ Work https://happier-at-work.com Who Doesn't Want To Be Happier At Work? Mon, 15 Jul 2019 20:21:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 https://happier-at-work.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/cropped-icon_b-32x32.png Happier @ Work https://happier-at-work.com 32 32 Recognition Fuels Motivation https://happier-at-work.com/recognition-fuels-motivation/ https://happier-at-work.com/recognition-fuels-motivation/#respond Mon, 15 Jul 2019 14:33:09 +0000 https://happier-at-work.com/?p=14226 The post Recognition Fuels Motivation appeared first on Happier @ Work.


When you’re in sales in a large market like Dallas-Fort Worth, inevitably your team will get visits from the big HQ VP’s. My team was getting ready for one of those visits when my immediate boss’ dad suddenly passed away.

I immediately recruited one of my team members to make sure the VP’s trip was filled with meetings with the local team and customers. Despite my leader’s absence, I wanted to make sure this leader’s visit was productive and that our team looked good in his eyes.

Imagine my surprise a few weeks later when I was on a regional conference call when a colleague, who did nothing to help in my leader’s absence, got credit from my regional VP for filling in for our boss and making sure this VP’s trip was a productive one.

Several of my team members immediately IM’d me because they knew it wasn’t true. I was seething on that call and almost speechless—which doesn’t happen often. While I didn’t expect or need recognition for doing the right thing, I also didn’t expect someone else to get credit for something I had led.

Eventually, I spoke to my leader about the call. She supposedly spoke to her boss, the VP who incorrectly praised one of my counterparts for work he didn’t do, but nothing changed. I didn’t get any recognition, the guy who got the praise from that VP continued to be her favorite and I lost respect for my boss’s boss.

In hindsight, I’m sure that was the beginning of the end of my career at that company.

Recognition matters. It’s why it’s part of our CARE — Communications, Activities, Recognition, and Encouragement —Program.

A few stats about recognition leaders should think about include:

  • Global studies prove that when it comes to inspiring people to do their best at work, nothing else comes close—not even higher pay, promotion, autonomy or training. (Forbes)
  • 42% of employees believe their accomplishments go unnoticed. (OC Tanner)
  • About 85% of professionals prefer a simple “thank you” as recognition for their day-to-day work activities. (Deloitte)
  • Top reasons for leaving a job: insufficient pay (44%), limited career paths (43%), lack of challenging work (30%), work-life balance (28%), and lack of recognition (27%). (Randstad)
  • Peer-to-peer is 35.7% more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition.   (SHRM/Globoforce Employee Recognition Survey)
  • Global studies reveal that 79% of people who quit their jobs cite ‘lack of appreciation’ as their reason for leaving (Forbes)

Recognition is bigger than the formal recognition programs your organization does. I mean trips, gifts and plaques are nice. However, the day-to-day recognition leaders provide impacts everything from performance to retention—it impacts your results as a leader.

When planning recognition for your team, consider:

  • When you give public kudos, make sure it’s the right person being recognized.
  • Make sure your team takes their vacation days — as many as 50% of vacation days are forfeited each year. This simple act shows that you recognize a team member is going above and beyond, but time away is important to productivity and moral.
  • Each month or quarter send team members an individual email, or hand written note, that recognizes something you value about them— a specific performance situation, a personal trait that helps them with their job or interaction with team members. Make it personal.
  • When possible, make sure your leader knows about the great work someone on your team does.
  • Recognize your high achievers, but also remember the important role your “steady eddies” play—the people who always get the job done, but may not want or try to be your high achievers.
  • Encourage your team members to give kudos to each other at team meetings or in-person.
  • Don’t forget to recognize your virtual and field team members—sometimes when people are out of sight, they are out of mind and can feel left out.
  • Recognize team members on LinkedIn with a shout out or by giving them a surprise recommendation.
  • Your recognition needs to be genuine—therefore, if you have some challenging employees, you may have to think a little harder to recognize their strengths. However, this may be the very thing that inspires them to further develop their professional skills.

Also, remember each team member is different; some like public accolades and others appreciate more personal recognition.

This is a blatant self-promotion but this year the Society of Happy People celebrates the 20th Happiness Happens Month in August. We want to recognize One Million Smile Starters — those people who start our smiles — starting now. We are providing free certificates and social media graphics. We also have fun Smile Starter Award Wristbands and Certificates.

You can make it a day, week, or even month-long celebration:

  • Give your team members an award
  • Encourage your team members to give Smile Starter Awards to their colleagues in other departments, or to their customers
  • Give a prize to the person who gets the most Smile Starter Awards from their peers

Authentic recognition is key to your success as a leader. When leaders customize recognition for individual team members so they feel valued and know you care about them, then these team members are inspired to do everything they can to make your team successful.

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Leader Action Plan: Mid-Year Check-In https://happier-at-work.com/leader-action-plan-midyear-checkin/ https://happier-at-work.com/leader-action-plan-midyear-checkin/#respond Mon, 20 May 2019 20:54:57 +0000 https://happier-at-work.com/?p=14169 The post Leader Action Plan: Mid-Year Check-In appeared first on Happier @ Work.


Leader Action Plan: Mid-Year Check-In

When I was working for one of those Fortune 150 companies, one of my favorite regional VP’s was one who called every person on her team each year — even those of us who didn’t directly report to her.

The conversation was casual — like two people meeting up for a cup of coffee. Of course, we had an opportunity to ask her about work, but it was really a conversation about getting to know each other.

She had a calming manner about her that made her easy to talk to. Of course, these conversations also made it more comfortable when you met with her in person, because you already felt like you knew her a bit and vice versa.

However, the most important thing these conversations did was to create a bond of trust with each other. They made you feel loyal to her. Therefore, when she asked you to do something, even if you thought it wasn’t going to help you achieve your micro goal — you still wanted to do it. You felt like you were helping someone you had a relationship with, not just a boss giving you a directive.

In my entire corporate career, she was the one leader I can honestly say I never wanted to disappoint. I also noticed this attitude amongst my colleagues too. She’s possibly the only VP I ever worked for that I don’t recall hearing anything negative said about her by any of her direct reports — which is kind of unheard of when you lead many people over several years.

I’m not saying the only reason for this is that she spoke to each of us — but that personalized leadership style was bigger than a phone call. It was how she led every day.

You can develop that type of relationship with your team, but it takes effort and time to create a culture where your team looks forward to an annual coffee chat with the boss.

Let’s get started with a Leader Action Plan:

1. Schedule a 20-minute call with each team member between now and the end of June — make sure that you block off 30 minutes for each call so you can go over a bit if needed.

2. Only do one or two calls per day so they don’t start to feel like a task — if it’s feeling like a chore to you, then the conversation will sound like that to your employee.

3. Leave any preconceived notations you have about the person you are chatting with off the table. If you haven’t met someone in person, acknowledge that you’re meeting them (via phone) for the first time. If you’re talking to someone you’ve worked with or known for years, then build on that personal relationship.

4. Try to leave your “boss hat” at the door and be a person — the employee you’re speaking with will follow your lead, since you are the leader. It’s natural for everyone to have “talking to the boss-jitters,” so it’s your job to set the tone.

When your team feels personally comfortable with you, they are also more likely to work harder for you. They will be more willing to honestly share how to improve processes and procedures. They will trust your directives even if you admit you can’t share all of the details about a situation.

Despite our world of technology that’s replaced so much personal communication, people like to work for people they feel connected to. It’s part of our DNA — we’re tribal creatures — even your introvert team members. People want to feel connected to people and a purpose bigger than themselves.

Happier at work leaders create a culture that CAREs when they take the time to know their team members beyond a name on an organization chart.

It’s also an opportunity for you to remember that you’re leading people who want to do a good job for you, but also have lives outside the office and their career goals. It reminds you that everyone is more than their profession.

If you feel this Leadership Action Plan was beneficial — then do it at the end of the year too. When you build on this activity, it can become something you and your team members look forward to.

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Not All Leadership Is Created Equal https://happier-at-work.com/leadership-not-created-equal/ https://happier-at-work.com/leadership-not-created-equal/#respond Tue, 16 Apr 2019 23:47:35 +0000 https://happier-at-work.com/?p=14077 The post Not All Leadership Is Created Equal appeared first on Happier @ Work.


Not All Leadership Is Created Equal

I’d just gotten to work for my weekly office day, and was heading into our team meeting when I heard my desk phone ring. I answered that call on Tuesday, August 17, 2004, but can still remember it like it was yesterday. The voice on the other end of the phone wasn’t an anticipated customer or coworker. It was my aunt, whom my mom lived by.

My heart skipped a beat as my body and mind froze. She wouldn’t call me at work unless something horrible happened. She said something like, “Pam, your mama isn’t doing good. I took her to the Winnie hospital in the middle of the night; they are moving her to a hospital in Beaumont. The doctors think you and your brother need to get here as soon as possible.”

I don’t really remember the rest of the conversation other than I was going to call my brother. When I asked to talk to my mom, she told my aunt that she didn’t feel well enough to talk to me. My mother always had something to say, so I couldn’t imagine how horrible she felt.

The next few hours were filled with lots of back and forth of the swell of every emotion between hope to despair almost simultaneously, to trying to get my surreal mind to think about practical logistics.

My brother and I lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, which was about five hours from Beaumont. We went through all of the options and decided that he’d fly to Beaumont on the next available flight. Then I’d drive so we’d have a car.

When Leaders Care

However, that morning when I arrived at the office, I discovered my tire was flat and needed to get a new one before I could leave. One of the managers, Derrick, took me to the tire store, then to lunch while they replaced my tire. He encouraged me to fly down with my brother.

My mind was fuzzy and making decisions felt overwhelming. On a whim, I took his advice and booked a plane ticket. I think he knew I had no business driving five hours alone since concentration wasn’t part of my bandwidth. He even took my brother and me to the airport a couple of hours later.

My mom was in ICU for almost three weeks before she passed. During that time my actual boss, Scott, checked in on me but always told me to take the time I needed and not worry about work. Of course, work was a bit of a mental diversion, because thinking about it felt normal. However, in general, I was like a walking zombie during those weeks, so nothing felt normal, and just being present for my mom and doing things like eating took all my energy.

When I returned to work after the funeral, my bosses again let me come and go at my own pace for about a month. They let me grieve. They catered to my definition of a work-life balance.

People Reward Leadership That Cares

In return, I didn’t want to disappoint them. Their response to a life-changing loss cultivated a loyalty to both the managers and the company— I worked there nine years.

A little over a decade later, when my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer, the company I worked for was actually the opposite. My managers didn’t care about what I was going through, which my heart equated to they didn’t care about my dad. They only cared if I exceeded my sales goals despite being on a sporadic FMLA and missing at least a week a month of work. I was thrilled I was at 100% of my goal that year.

What happened after my dad passed? I resigned two weeks after the funeral.

It worked out because it led me to start Happier @ Work. Sometimes when the people you work for appear heartless, you ask bigger questions — and that’s a different post. However, if they’d treated me as well as the company I worked at did when my mom passed, I’d probably still be there.

When the people you lead are going through challenging personal times — the loss of family members, friends, parents or pets (some companies offer pet bereavement benefits), divorces, parenting frustrations, empty nest transitions, their health issues or those of people they help caretake — the way you treat them, either fosters loyalty — or makes them wonder if you have a soul.

Be The Leader Who Cares About The People You Lead

There’s no one way to manage an employee who’s going through an extended difficult time — your actions will need to be customized to where the employee is at any given time. Therefore, you’ll need to be aware if they need motivation, inspiration, rest or kindness. You may need to take something off their plate or push them a bit to get back into their routine. It’s not easy, but it has long term benefits.

When you show you care about your team members by helping them navigate big personal challenges, then you foster an employee that also cares about you, your goals and those of an organization.

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Meaningful Leadership https://happier-at-work.com/meaningful-leadership/ https://happier-at-work.com/meaningful-leadership/#respond Thu, 14 Mar 2019 18:50:24 +0000 https://happier-at-work.com/?p=11953 The post Meaningful Leadership appeared first on Happier @ Work.


Meaningful Leadership

Take a moment and think about your past leaders. Which ones stand out? Then ask yourself, “Why?”

In most cases, I suspect the standouts are the leaders that probably made you feel uncomfortable sometimes. They helped you get to the next level of your career because they cared enough to help you grow instead of simply telling you what to do. They practiced meaningful leadership.   

One of my observations about people, including leaders, who want to keep things happy and positive is that sometimes they avoid doing things that are uncomfortable. And, this can stagnate your growth as a leader and the growth of your team.

Meaningful Leadership In Action

Some of you may have heard this story before. However, it’s worth sharing again because it shows how one of my first bosses, Bob Blanchette, took his job of developing my leadership skills as seriously as he did making sure I achieved my measurable goals.

I graduated from college when I was 20, but turned 21 shortly after. There was a recession in Abilene, Texas, where I lived at the time, but I got the first job I applied for: Executive Director of Junior Achievement of Abilene.

Although the office was a branch of the Fort Worth JA office, it was an independent operation. I reported to a local board of directors, fundraised for all of our expenses, worked with three school districts, recruited and trained the volunteers. In short, it was my job to lead a lot of people that were probably a decade or more my senior.

A few weeks into my new job I was faced with my first, but certainly not last, not sure what to do with this situation dilemma. I don’t remember what it was now. 

However, I do remember when I mentioned it to Bob, on our weekly Friday call, his response: “I want you to take the weekend and think of three options for this situation. Then come up with the pros and cons for each one. We’ll discuss them on Monday and figure out which is the best option to pursue.” 

Initially, I was annoyed. I just wanted him to tell me what to do. I was sure he knew the best solution, and it would have been easier than me thinking through options plus pros and cons. It would have also been easier and faster for him to simply tell me what to do. At the time I didn’t really understand why he was making me go through what felt like a waste of time.  

However, Bob knew that it was his job to help me develop my leadership skills. This included feeling confident enough to make decisions that impacted my job and the board of directors. If he had told me what to do, that wouldn’t happen. I’d always be insecure about future sticky situations.  

Meaningful Leadership Is About Growing Your Team

Leadership is about more than sharing your wisdom. It’s about imparting it to your team in a way that they learn from you. It requires mentorship. This means taking your mentee through the difficult task of letting them learn something new.

This can be uncomfortable, stressful and time-consuming. However, the stress of being uncomfortable when we learn something new makes us happy according to a 2009 study in the Journal of Happiness.   

I learned a valuable lesson from that situation that I have carried through my career — when there’s a challenge, think of three possible solutions, and the pros and cons for each before discussing it with my leader.

This always gave us something to discuss, revise and eventually determine the best option. It also let my leaders know that I was solution-focused not problem-focused.  

The best leaders inspire their team members to think about situations from different perspectives. Why?

When people think differently, they will act differently. This doesn’t usually happen when a leader simply issues a command unless the team already understands the reason for it.

Being happier at work involves more than making work fun. It’s also about helping the people you lead to become the best versions of themselves. It’s helping them grow even when it’s not comfortable or easy.

Of course, when someone feels that you care about them, it’s easier to help them grow. When you do this, one day, perhaps you’ll be on their list of meaningful leaders.  

We want to help leaders CARE more with our monthly Happier @ Work Leadership Newsletter. And, we want to send you 5 Recognition Certificates you can use anytime to show your TEAM how much you do CARE. Click below to learn more!

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Effective Leadership: The Kind -vs- Negative Leader https://happier-at-work.com/effective-leadership/ https://happier-at-work.com/effective-leadership/#respond Mon, 04 Feb 2019 20:30:39 +0000 https://happier-at-work.com/?p=11918 The post Effective Leadership: The Kind -vs- Negative Leader appeared first on Happier @ Work.


When I read Kindness Can Make You a Better Leader, naturally I thought this would be perfect for the February leadership article during a month that celebrates hearts and kindness. After all, is it possible to have a happy workplace not inspired by kindness?

Then, I ran across Why We’re Drawn to Leaders Who Emphasize the Negative. It basically says that leaders who espouse negative comments are perceived as more powerful, in part, because people feel they are telling the truth and will have their backs because they are willing to confront others.

So, I’ve spent days pondering the question: “If being negative espouses power, then how can a kind leader really be better?”

Studies show that happy people are 12% more productive in the workplace. Kindness makes people happy. Logically, if you’re leading a team, kind leadership certainly helps get the job done.

However, the question that might not have been asked in some of these studies is, “Do both kindness and negativity create effective leadership?”

Effective leaders understand that employees expect and need their managers to:

Be Honest with Them

Poor communication is always one of the top happiness zappers for a company. When employees don’t know what’s going on, or understand expectations, or feel they are getting mixed messages from their leaders, they minimally fret over it, which taxes their emotional bandwidth. And, more than likely, they spend time trying to get clarification discussing the cloudy communication with their co-workers.

Therefore, being as honest as you can with your team fosters good relationships and trust. It also reduces wasted emotional energy, which allows your team to focus on doing their jobs.

If a company asks employees, specifically your team, to do something that doesn’t make sense to the team members, even a kind leader needs to acknowledge it.

If you always try to keep it positive, being honest may feel like you are speaking negatively. However, acknowledging something that feels counterintuitive is about being truthful regarding the facts as perceived by your team. Facts, even negative ones, are simply facts.

Just because a team doesn’t understand why they need to do something doesn’t mean they don’t need to do it—they do. Each team is a piece of a bigger-picture-organizational-puzzle, and the team, or even you as the leader, may not always see the big completed picture. Sometimes organizations need to try new things to find out that they don’t work.

However, by acknowledging how your team feels, you can best devise a plan to realistically get the job done, even when it feels challenging (code for waste of time). That’s being kindly realistic.

Have Their Backs

Employees want to know their leaders have their backs—at least to the best of their ability. This fosters loyalty. When a leader appears too “kind,” or nice, your team may perceive you as someone who won’t have their backs. They may feel you are too nice to be assertive on their behalf.

Can a leader be kind and strong? Of course. But this, again, may feel awkward if you lead with kindness. Being strong sometimes means being emphatic with your leaders — the people who manage you. This may feel uncomfortable, depending on how your leaders manage. And, by emphatic, I mean, making sure that upper management understands a situation from your team or team member’s perspective —especially if productivity or actions are being questioned.

A manager that has the backs of her (or his) team members inspires team loyalty and engagement — it’s actually kindness in action.

Coaching With Care

Sometimes the kindest thing a manager does is individually coach his team members. And, it’s what the best leaders do:

  • When someone needs constructive communication — give it.
  • When someone needs assistance — give it.
  • When someone needs recognition­ — give it.
  • When someone needs encouragement — give it.

Coaching lets your team members know you care. Each team member is unique, and what motivates and inspires each is personal. Gone are the days when team members adjust to their managers. Millennials want, even expect, their managers to adjust to them.

However, when you think of leadership coaches, hasn’t this always been the case — the best coaches adjust their style to inspire excellence with each team member. After all, a kind leader’s understanding of flexibility is the best way to get the best results, no matter the situation.

So, to answer my question — yes, kind leaders are effective leaders when they couch kindness with reality — even if that reality is negative. Kind, realistic leaders are effective because they empower their teams to find possible solutions. This allows everyone to succeed — and even thrive.

We want to help leaders CARE more with our monthly Happier @ Work Leadership Newsletter. And, we want to send you 5 Recognition Certificates you can use anytime to show your TEAM how much you do CARE. Click below to learn more!

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Motivation And Inspiration @ Work For 2019 https://happier-at-work.com/motivation-inspiration-work/ https://happier-at-work.com/motivation-inspiration-work/#respond Thu, 03 Jan 2019 06:23:53 +0000 https://happier-at-work.com/?p=11697 The post Motivation And Inspiration @ Work For 2019 appeared first on Happier @ Work.


Leaders understand that it’s easier to motivate and inspire their team members when they understand their work “why.” It’s true that everyone needs to make a living, but after that, everyone has a work “why”.

A person’s why can change depending on what’s changed in their life.

So as we begin the year, take a few moments with each person individually to reassess their work why.

  • Did they get married or have a baby?
  • Are they taking care of aging parents?
  • Do they want a promotion?
  • Do they enjoy building their skills and networking with other departments?
  • Do they look forward to their 3 weeks of vacation time?
  • Are they waiting for their retirement date?
  • Do they love the majority of what they do — the industry, customers, or the tasks?
  • Do they simply want their paycheck to pay the bills and live for the weekend or soccer practice with their kids?

In some ways, the why doesn’t matter. I mean yes, you want your team to want to do the best job they can because it’s the right thing to do. But, it’s easier to inspire excellence when you understand each person’s why — then you can manage, or more accurately, better communicate to that why.

Unless your team consists only of baby boomers, then they most likely expect more fulfillment than just being grateful that they have a job. Millennials expect their leaders to customize their leadership style to them. Whereas baby boomers typically customize their communication and work styles to their leaders.

Understanding each team members personal why, or why’s, will help you customize your communication to best motivate and inspire each person — which makes it easier for you to lead a happier at work team in 2019.

This is also a good time to make sure you understand your work “why” for 2019.

We want to help leaders CARE more with our monthly Happier @ Work Leadership Newsletter. And, we want to send you 5 Recognition Certificates you can use anytime to show your TEAM how much you do CARE

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