The Secret To High Performance Business: Happiness
This is an article I wrote a while back for the magazine Building Women, and I wanted to share it with you…
The past 10 years have been an interesting journey for me as I have searched high and low for the magic ingredient — the “special sauce”, if you will — that makes a high performing team.
During a conversation recently with the principal of a very successful engineering firm in Santa Rosa, Calif., I had my “Ah ha!” moment.
- It’s not about the product.
- It’s not about the location.
- It’s not about whether you are a multi-million dollar company or a solopreneur.
- It’s not about profit or non-profit.
- It has nothing to do with how many years you’ve been in business.
After years of serving business owners and team leaders as an executive coach, leadership development consultant and team-building specialist, I realize that it’s about the people.
When you have the right people placed in the right jobs, who are clear on their roles and responsibilities, who come to work every day and have the freedom to do the things they are good at and love to do, you find one special ingredient: happy people. And an organization full of happy people makes for a pretty phenomenal place to work. It’s no wonder these organizations are performing at high levels, are leaders in their industry, and are doing things that other organizations aren’t doing!
I often ask my coaching clients, “How good can you stand it?”, as an encouraging way to inspire them to take action for improved results. A good idea unrealized is only a good idea. But when you know you are ready to take action to make your dreams or goals a reality, creating a vision of excellence is a great motivator for getting you going!
Finding what people do best
Here’s another discovery that I’ve made. It really doesn’t matter whether your company has 150 people or one person. It’s about tapping into the innate talent of the individual, leveraging that talent in all that you do every day and creating tasks that are perfectly suited to that talent! When you have the right person in the right job, it’s like magic.
High performing individuals know exactly what they are good at, where their “sweet spot” of high performance peaks — and they know exactly where they get stuck! Let’s face it. We all know what we are — and are not — good at. Anyone who’s ever sat through a performance review knows what I’m talking about. It’s time to learn how to manage our deficiencies and surround ourselves with the talent that’s needed to help us take our businesses where they need to go!
Do we, as leaders, “get it”? I think we do. But we also tend to dream up the greatness in others. We see the potential in others, perhaps before they see it. And we tend to justify, make excuses or even change the job to fit the person! We give others too many chances to get it right. That’s just backwards. In fact, it’s the people problems that keep us up at night.
The Kolbe A Index, one of the tools my clients have used for years to help them with their talent development initiatives, is an assessment that shines the light on what’s right about you and helps you to gain insights about why you do what you do. It also adds powerful feedback on leveraging your innate talent and helps you discover how to use that talent to create success at work and in life. By honoring your instinctive talent at work, you can be more productive with much more ease versus working against your grain. You can learn more at http://kolbe.com/assessments/career-mo/.
As a Kolbe Certified Consultant, I used the Kolbe concepts for years to help my clients make sure they have the right people in the right jobs. I used the concepts for hiring talent that’s missing from a team. And I used the talent profiles to “rebalance” the team talent, by redesigning job duties and tasks that fit the individual’s instinctive
talent. Results become much easier to attain, work seems much more effortless and gratifying, and people get reignited about their jobs!
It is so empowering for a person to do what he or she does best and work with people who have talent in areas where they are deficient. That’s where team synergy happens and high-performing people become high-performing teams. And a high-performing team equals happy people.
Why happiness matters
What’s so important about happy people in the workplace? I have encountered my fair share of naysayers and those who find this whole “happiness movement” a whole lot of fluff. But have you ever worked with someone who exudes negative energy? Someone who sucks the living life out of a work environment because of their poor attitude, negative chatter, complaining rather than acknowledging the good stuff all the time? (I hope this isn’t you!)
Happiness at work leads to a feeling of wellness. When you enjoy your work and know that you are making a difference with your clients and those you serve, there is a physiological effect on one’s overall well being. In fact, the brilliant folks at Gallup did a study a few years back, polling people in dozens of countries, and the research
consistently validated this fact: The No.1 factor that created well being in someone’s life was career well being! That rated higher than other factors, such as social, financial, physical and community well being.
One of the great thought leaders of our time, Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar, has taught classes at Harvard University on positive psychology. Some colleges and universities even offer certifications and degrees on the subject. And for someone like me, who has spent my entire life seeing life through these brilliant rose-colored glasses and looking for the greatness in everyone, I am ecstatic to share the research!
Our happiness is directly related to our overall well being. So why not create work environments where people can thrive, be productive, have pride in their accomplishments and be happy?
My big disclaimer: This isn’t about a lack of accountability. In fact, the power one has in placing people in the right jobs suited to their talent means we must be that much more diligent about putting accountability measures in place at all levels of an organization. We must honor the needs of the business every day. To achieve results, we have to be clear about the needs of the business, have clear roles and responsibilities for everyone on the team, and have consistent, daily conversations about what’s working and where we are getting stuck so we can stay on track.
The courage to lead
In my first book, Managing For Performance: Building Accountability for Team Success, I share several tools and resources that I have used over the years with my clients. The most powerful conversation I consistently have with my clients is about the courage it takes to lead.
It’s not easy to run a business, manage a team, and take people where they need and want to go. It’s a lot of work. And it all starts with you. You have to be willing to do things that others won’t do. You have to be willing to have uncomfortable conversations with your people, to call them out when you see them heading toward the edge of the cliff, and know how to redirect them so they can get back on track.
Sometimes we have the right people in the wrong jobs. And, sometimes, the kind thing to do is to help someone to leave. Sometimes we discover that we have people on our payroll who don’t believe what we believe, who simply don’t “fit,” and we need to help them find other work that is more suited to their talents and beliefs so they can be happy.
It’s an amazing privilege to be in a leadership role. You are empowered to develop people and help them to be exceptional by utilizing their natural gifts, leverage their talent and shine the light on their greatness. It’s even more impactful when you can model for others what you want them to be by doing it yourself.
Dig deep and discover your greatness. Set yourself up for success by aligning your innate talent with the work you do every day. It’s the best recipe for a happy life and a wildly gratifying career. Sometimes we have to get out of our own way to create the life and career that we want. But, as I have discovered personally, when you are ready and willing to do that work and your talent is in pure alignment with the work you do, your days will be full of joy and you will find yourself saying, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this!”
Here’s my final question for you, which makes all that work worth-worthwhile: How good can you stand it?
Whether you are looking for coaching or you would like help with a team event…
call me direct at (425) 241-4855.
I look forward to talking with you!