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Have A Happy Workplace

Happiness is having a strong foundation of well-being, from which happy feelings naturally rise up in us like smoke from a fire.

So when I talk about happiness at work, I’m not talking about people walking around the office with smiles on their faces all the time. Having happy feelings continuously is not realistic, and it is not the goal. If I am your business leader, my goal is for you to experience well-being, a solid sense of achievement and progress at work that happens in an environment of connection, safety and encouragement. I know that this kind of work environment allows people to experience well-being, and thus to feel happy as a result.

Happy people do great work. They get along with each other and stick around.

The biggest single thing I can do as a leader to create well-being for my people is to build a culture of respect in my company.

Respect has several aspects. It is a feeling of admiration for someone related to their abilities, qualities or achievements-“I really respect your honesty.” It is also about having proper regard for the feelings, wishes, rights and traditions of others-“I respect the differences in how we view and practice religion.”

We learn respect when we are young, by experiencing it when it is given to us by our parents and caregivers. They say, “When your door is closed, I will knock,” or, “I respect you for standing up to that bully.” When they tell you those things and behave that way you learn how to have boundaries, and you learn how to have healthy self-esteem.

We know what respect is because we receive it, and we can then turn around and give it to others. But, if we don’t receive respect when we’re young we won’t really know what it is or how to give it later on, and there will be a gap in our ability to treat people right.

At work, people who lack a sense of respect may be negative and unforgiving toward others. They may be aggressive or have difficulty honoring necessary boundaries, and they may not know how to compliment people or acknowledge them for what they do right. Here’s what you can do as their leader:

Contain them. Set limits and boundaries for them clearly but kindly. “Please don’t come into my office without knocking when the door is closed,” or, “It’s not right to talk to people like you just talked to Mitch. I need you to stop that.”

Teach them about respect. When you observe or receive reports of disrespectful behavior, tell the person involved that their behavior is unacceptable, and also tell them what specific behavior would have been acceptable in those circumstances. They may not have come from a background where they adequately learned respect, so it’s good to paint a picture for them in some way to demonstrate what it looks like in action.

Appreciate them. Look for the good in what they do-individually and in groups-and tell them about that. Start your meetings by verbally appreciating something good the person or group did. An important note, though; there needs to be no “but… ” at the end of appreciating them. Try not to use recognition to set up correction, because the correction will cancel out the recognition. “You did a good job with the Williams account, BUT you need to do your paperwork better.” Nope.

Don’t be afraid to praise people. It won’t give them swelled heads, they won’t slack off, and work won’t degenerate into a love fest where things don’t get done.

Respect your people, build their respect by giving them boundaries and telling them what they do right, and they will get along better and be happier at work.