A few years ago, I woke up, made coffee and went to my back porch for my morning journaling, as was my habit.
I vividly remember writing the words, “I can’t remember the last time I woke up excited about my day.” It was clearly time for a change; I just didn’t know what that change was. I’ve chased a few rainbows since that morning, most of which did not have my pot of gold at the end, but I’ve learned so much about myself and about what stepping out in faith looks and feels like.
Something else I’ve learned is how to recognize and appreciate a great work environment. That’s what I want to write about today: the staff that I am so blessed to have the opportunity to manage. There’s a palpable feeling that we are clicking on all cylinders. We have our challenges, especially in this difficult pandemic-induced environment, but we work hard, we laugh and we celebrate the little wins.
While the idea of leading a happy, upbeat team feels great, is it really necessary? As long as employees are doing their jobs (and ideally not hating it), it’s fine, right?
Well, no, actually. I remember when being happy at work wasn’t a big deal. Work is a four-letter word, after all; if you didn’t like your job, you just did it all the same and found your happiness outside the office. Managing by intimidation was the rule, and you needed world-class bullying skills to rise to the top.
Thank goodness we now live in different times. In corporate climates increasingly defined by values, employee happiness counts for a lot. We are now in the age of “employee experience,” which by necessity must focus on individuality, meaning and choice. We have access to research that proves the link between happiness and productivity, motivation, dedication and retention.
On the flip side, we now know that unhappiness is seriously detrimental to our performance. It causes us to disengage, reducing our ability to think critically or creatively. And having just one unhappy employee can affect the entire team, and, if the entire team is affected, the business will suffer.
The challenge to any manager is to first gauge the happiness of employees, and then to nurture strong, meaningful two-way relationships. The onus is on you to lead with compassion and establish genuine communication … not an easy task when you are a stranger and haven’t had time to build the trust that only shared experience can establish.
This is where I get to brag on the exceptional people I work with. I could have been met with skepticism and mistrust. Instead I was met with smiles and transparency. They could have made me work to find out what would make them happy, but instead they shared openly and, amazingly, they asked how they could support me.
I go to work in the morning looking forward to spending my day with a group of happy people. So, to Joshua, Haskel, Andrew, Kathy, Chip, Jamie, Natasha, Holley, Missy, Dave and Marty, please know that you are appreciated, and thank you for allowing me to wake up in the morning looking forward to greeting you with shared excitement every day!
Christina Pierce is publisher of The Pine Belt News and Signature Magazine.