Business at the Speed of Happiness

In most of our businesses and organizations, our model, service or technology is really not our differentiator. Success is determined by the quality of our people and how they relate and communicate to each other and the world around us – our stakeholders and our customers.

Attracting and keeping great people is our ultimate pathway to sustainable success. And it’s a very challenging market out there for great talent, particularly in South Florida.

Management often appears (or tries to appears) as complicated, sophisticated, and even obtuse. Leadership is even more esoteric and harder to qualify and quantify. I think they are both really about understanding human motivation, and making people happy.

As Maslow taught us, once our basic needs are met (wellness and safety), it’s the higher needs of love, esteem and growth that keep us motivated and happy.

Assuming your people are healthy – and in a healthy environment – and they’re receiving a fair compensation for their contribution to your organization’s success, creating an environment of likeable and happy is the single best strategy to keep your best people engaged and loyal.

The Association of Accounting Technicians in The UK did research that was absolute in its result. Good colleagues beat high pay: Eight in 10 workers would turn down a higher salary if it meant working with people they didn’t like.

Happy people make happy customers, which make happy owners and shareholders.

When you look deeply into Apple, Google, Zappos.com and other hugely successful, stand-out companies, you’ll find they nearly all have something in common that helps separate them and keep them soaring successfully through the great recession – and growing powerfully in the more recent times of expansion:

” Their people are passionately engaged advocates for their business.

” They go above and beyond what they’re paid to do because they have an emotional engagement with the business, with the product and with their client or customer.

” They are happy where – and with whom – they work.

This is what separates the mundane from the good, and more importantly, the good from the great.

On the flip side, the cost of having a disengaged culture is huge – probably a lot larger than you realize. Factor in absenteeism, low morale, poorer customer service than you can imagine, lost sales, lost long-term customers and you can see the costs of unhappy people.

The most important business and leadership objective to sustain business growth is to attract, retain and grow great people. To do so, you need to help them to “be happy” by helping them fulfill the following needs:

1. To be respected. Everyone needs respect, though we each want it in different ways.

2. To be cared about. When life’s joys and sorrows come along, we want to know people care.

3. To learn and grow. We want to feel like we are not stagnating, that there is something interesting to do, to learn, and to expand our personal and professional horizons.

4. To be valued. Beyond being respected is the knowledge that we and our contribution are important to the people with and for whom we work.

5. To do meaningful work. We need to know that what our organization does, matters.

6. To be on a winning team. Nothing ignites passion in all of us like the esprit de corps generated by the success of a high performance team.

Are you happy at work? Do you help others be happy? It is the simple way to so many rewards in business and in life! ?

Steve Garber is director of Third Level Ltd. Contact him at 561.752.5505 or email him at sgarber@thirdlevel.com.

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