Three Keys To Happiness At Work
Listen to Episode 8:
Episode 8 Transcript:
Chris Curran: Growth igniters radio episode 8: 3 Keys To Happiness At Work.
This episode is brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated, enabling successful leaders and companies to accelerate to their next level of growth. On the web at www.businessadvance.com. And now, here’s Pam and Scott.
Pam Harper: Thanks Chris. Hi. I’m Pam Harper, founding partner and CEO of Business Advancement Incorporated. And across from me is my business partner and husband, Scott Harper
Scott Harper: Hi Pam, how are you today?
Pam Harper: Just great.
Scott Harper: That’s terrific. I want to remind our listeners that the purpose of Growth Igniters Radio is to spark new insights, inspiration and immediately useful ideas for leaders who want to take themselves and their companies to their next level of success.
Pam, I have to tell you that I’m really happy doing these shows with you.
Pam Harper: What a coincidence; me too!
Scott Harper: That’s great.
Pam Harper: Did you know that in 2012, the United Nations declared March 20 to be observed as the International Day Of Happiness. Did you know this?
Scott Harper: I did not know that.
Pam Harper: We can actually provide people with a description of what this is under Resources on the page for this episode.
Scott Harper: That sounds like a good idea.
Pam Harper: One more reason that I’m really happy today is that my good friend Gayle Lantzis with us to talk about 3 keys to happiness at work.
Gayle is founder of Work Matters Incorporated. She is a leadership expert who helps executives, teams and organizations improve performance. She’s the author of the book Take the Bull By The Horns, and coauthor of a new bestselling book on Amazon, Happiness Recipe. Her articles and insights have been featured in a variety of major media and business publications including Harvard Management Update, Wall Street Journal Online, and Fast Company. Gayle, welcome.
Gayle Lantz: Thank you Pam and Scott. It’s good to be here.
Pam Harper: Many people listening would agree that happiness in the workplace is important, yet it seems like it’s become even more important now. Why is that?
Gayle Lantz: Research is showing a direct correlation between happiness at work and performance on the job. Everyone wants to be happy at work, but there is even more motivation for organizations to be paying attention to these issues so that they can get the best performance − get the best results at the end of the day.
Pam Harper: What are some examples of what you’ve seen as the need for more happiness in the workplace?
Gayle Lantz: A lot of that has to do with the level of engagement that organizations have, or that employees have in their work. Some of the projects that I have been working on involve an objective of helping engage employees in their work so that they can do better in their job. What you’ll find is that leaders, managers, and executives are working harder to draw out the best in their people. They want to know what makes them tick − what do they care about − because ultimately, when you’re bringing out the best in your employee, they’ll bring more to the table. They’ll want to work harder. They’ll want to do more so that you’ll be able to really leverage the best in them by increasing that level of engagement.
Pam Harper: Which makes a lot of sense. I know that sometimes, at least in our experience and in consulting, we’ve seen that it’s not always obvious to leaders when somebody is not happy − would you agree?
Gayle Lantz: I think so. Sometimes it can be reflected in performance. You wonder why isn’t this person showing up every day when they need to be getting to work on time or why is the person in this role not seeing things the way that they need to be or getting the performance to the level that it should be. Often it’s because there could be something that’s holding that person [back]; the manager doesn’t need to necessarily be a psychotherapist, but they probably do need to tune into whatever is going on with that person to better understand what their motivations are − what their strength are.
So many times we have people who are forced into a position instead of being put into a role that truly leverages what their talents are. That’s a lot of the work that I do with organizations − trying to find that alignment so that the talents and the skills and the interest fit the role that the person is charged to be doing.
Pam Harper: I know that when we’ve come in to work with companies, sometimes there can be rumors flying around like crazy, for instance. People get very insecure, or there are issues that are going on, so it’s a sign that there’s a lot of unhappiness in the workplace. And yet what’s really interesting − and I bet you’ve seen this too − is that some of the very best companies will be giving parties, they’ll have wonderful benefits…
Scott Harper: Perks all over.
Pam Harper: … Perks all over − and yet there are people who are not happy. You’ve seen that, I’m sure.
Gayle Lantz: One of the things that I found is that it’s more about the nuances. You’re right; a lot of companies are going to extreme measures to try to make sure that people are celebrating and they’re having a party and doing those things, but it really boils down to the day-to-day simple things that a leader can do. What I found is a lot of it has to do with simple appreciation, acknowledgement. People want to know that their work is being seen; that they’re being hear; that what they’re doing is appreciated.
When I’m involved in projects in getting feedback from employees, that’s usually one of the overriding themes that comes up. They’ll say things like “I don’t think it matters what I’m doing here.” or “They’re just going to do what they wanted to do anyway; they don’t listen to me.” Just some of those little subtle simple things make such a big difference − it doesn’t have to be rocket science.
Scott Harper: I think that it’s really important to be sensitive to other people, to pick up some of those nuances. One of the things that I like to do when we go somewhere is look for things like Dilbert cartoons in cubicles. If you’ve got somebody with a lot of Dilbert cartoons dissing the pointy haired boss you go, “Huh − I wonder what’s going on here.” Sometimes it’s a clue; sometimes it’s just that they like Dilbert.
Pam Harper: That’s true. I think we can collectively agree that happiness at work is not a nice to do; the need to increase happiness at work is not a nice to do…
Scott Harper: It has a real top and bottom line impact.
Pam Harper: … It’s a must do. Would you agree with that too?
Gayle Lantz: Absolutely. I think of the number of hours that you spend every day at work − why not try to make the most of it and bring out the best in yourself and the organization? There’s a lot that you can do personally, if you happen to be the employee that’s dissatisfied or not finding the happiness that you want, but there’s even more that you can do if you are in a leadership role − which I’m sure a lot of your listeners are − to really influence and impact the satisfaction that employees find in the workplace.
Pam Harper: I agree.
What we’re going to do is take a quick break right now, and when we come back we’ll talk more with Gayle Lantz about a few of the surprising reasons why more people aren’t happy at work. Stay with us…
Scott Harper: You’re listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper, brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated − enabling successful companies to accelerate to their next level of innovation and growth.
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Pam Harper: Welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio, with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. We’re talking with Gayle Lantz, founder of Work Matters, about workplace happiness and why it has such an important impact on business success. Gayle, how can people find you?
Gayle Lantz: The best way to find me is simply going to the website www.workmatters.com.
Pam Harper: It’s filled with all kinds of resources; it’s a great website.
Let’s get to the heart of the issue here. Why aren’t more people happy at work? There are plenty of companies, as we said, that give parties, they offer good salaries, they offer all kinds of perks, all in the interest of making people happy − and it’s well intentioned − and yet people can still be unhappy, even under these conditions.
Gayle Lantz: That’s right. I think some people are just unhappy anywhere, so you have to rule out the few that probably have made up their mind that that’s just how they’re going to be regardless of the situation. [But] I also think a number of people feel a sense of helplessness and uncertainty. There’s been a lot of optimism in the market lately, and I think people are looking forward to good things happening, but there still a sense of being a little bit out of control, having to rely on the organization to direct your future. Shake-ups in management and leadership can create stress for employees, so a lot of that does contribute to stress and concern in the workplace that can affect happiness.
Pam Harper: I agree. There are a lot of organizational factors these days; obtaining talent and keeping employees engaged is something I think we’re going to be doing a lot of addressing in future episodes.
I want to go back to thinking about what’s internal to the person, though, because you’ve made a couple of points. Like the one where some people aren’t happy anywhere − so in a way it sounds like you’re saying that for some people, it’s their internal thermostat in a sense. Is that right?
Gayle Lantz: I think it is. There are some people, I think, who are a little more naturally wired to be optimistic. You have to be really cautious about getting people into your workplace who really don’t have that spirit and attitude that you’re looking for, because that can permeate the rest of the organization, affect the culture. I think you have a mix of different kinds of people in the workplace and you do have to just pay attention to the natural attitude, to how they’re wired, is how I like to capture that.
Scott Harper: You’re looking for the glass half full people as opposed to the glass half empty people…
Gayle Lantz: Yes, for their own sake, because they’ll typically rise to the occasion and perform well, but they can also be such a positive influence across the organization.
Scott Harper: What about people who do see the glass as half empty, or “it’s completely full, but half of it is air, and I can’t drink that”? What can leaders do, what can the individual do, if they have that propensity or if they feel stressed or uncertain, [and] they’re not satisfied? Are we just saying, “no hope”?
Gayle Lantz: Not necessarily. I think one of the best things that you can do is to try to bring them into the conversation and to talk openly about the issues. A lot of times I see people, or leaders in particular who really don’t want to or don’t know how to address the negativity. They just hope it will go away. “Can we just shuffle it under the rug,” or they’ll wait another week because things are so busy right now − they’ll focus on it later. I think one of the best things that you can do is address it head on. Don’t let it fester, because it will become more poisonous the longer you let that attitude permeate the organization.
I do a lot of one-on-one executive coaching; and so [for example] one executive who was dealing with a difficult person was able to have a heart-to-heart conversation and identify exactly what it was that was creating some of the stress and the negativity in the office. For one thing, they stated it as a behavior that they noticed, which is a good tip for leaders. You always want to talk about the behavior, not the person. Once the leader pointed that out, the other person opened up and started explaining why they felt that way. Anytime you can have a person articulate what’s going on in their mind, understand how they’re thinking, you have a better shot as a leader at being able to impact them in a positive way.
They were essentially able to air a lot of the information out in the open. Wrapping it around the intent of wanting the best for everyone involved is another theme that I often preach to clients that I’m working with. Some of these conversations are so sensitive, and leaders are afraid to get into that territory; but if you lead the conversation in a way that says “Hey I just want to make sure that we’re focused on what’s best for everyone involved here − for you, for us. Let’s talk about some issues so that we can work together on helping us get where we need to be.” That way it’s pulling them in as a team, as opposed to “I can’t handle your attitude.”
Pam Harper: It’s interesting that sometimes we think as leaders that we know what the answer is going to be. You’re talking about opening up; every once in a while I’ve seen leaders be very surprised by the response. I remember one time when leaders were particularly mystified by something that was going on. There was one company, and they couldn’t understand why people were so upset. They thought they knew what was happening. But it turned out that when they started talking as you’re describing, that the people were actually seeing things happening that were going on, because the company was growing, [and] people misinterpreted − thought that company was going out of business − because they could not figure what was happening. The leaders were absolutely dumbfounded; “how could this possibly be that they would think that,” and yet that happens a lot. We think we know what somebody thinks, and then we have to hear what they tell us in order to really get behind it and address it effectively.
Gayle Lantz: That’s right. There’s a lot of room for misinterpretation.
Scott Harper: Being aware of behaviors that might signal unhappiness − being empathetic and asking the question in a neutral nonjudgmental way − can really free up that information and give you some options. Is that what you’re saying?
Gayle Lantz: That’s exactly what I’m saying. And another radical thought is to view it as an opportunity. When you see those signals, instead of thinking “oh my goodness, I’m going to have to have this difficult confrontation,” to think “this is an opportunity where I’m going to learn something, and I will actually be able to help someone.” That can actually help the overall business. Viewing it as an opportunity to help is a paradigm shift for many leaders that are stressed about having to confront a difficult situation.
Pam Harper: But so important. And I think another thing − and this goes back to your whole basic belief about “work matters” that I love − you talk about how people view their work as maybe the beginning of thinking about how to get out of the unhappiness.
Gayle Lantz: Yes. I think that especially, younger generations are committed to doing work that has meaning to them, compared to some other generations that see work as work − “it’s just something that you do and then you get paid for it and then you go home.” More and more, people − it just happens to be more common I think, in some of the younger generations, but it’s even sometimes as you are approaching your later years though, in your career − they decide “I want to do something that has more meaning and purpose, and I see the value in doing that.” They’re more willing to make changes. They are more willing to stand up for what they believe in and move in a direction that makes sense simply because they’re committed to aligning themselves with that sense of meaning and purpose.
Pam Harper: Good points. It sounds like what we’re saying is that it’s a really important to understand what’s behind the unhappiness in the workplace before you can really address it. You have to understand some of these things can be very surprising − and we can’t make assumptions about them − but there are actually things that we can do. And that’s what we’re going to talk more about in the next segment.
We’re going to take a quick break right now, and when we come back we’ll speak more with Gayle Lantz, founder of Work Matters, about some concrete things that you can do to increase happiness in the workplace − now. Stay with us…
Scott Harper: You’re listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper, brought to you by Business Advancement Incorporated − on the web at www.businessadvance.com. If you like what you’re hearing, spread the good word. Go to www.growthignitersradio.com, click on episode 8 and use the share links for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter at the top right of the page to tell you social media communities all about us using #growthigniters. And do us a favor: rate and review the show on iTunes. Doing these things will help us extend our reach to all of the people who can benefit from this show, and all the other ones we do.
Pam Harper: Welcome back to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. Over the last 2 segments we’ve been talking with Gayle Lantz, founder of Work Matters Incorporated, about the top and bottom line impact that happiness has on company performance. Also, we’ve been talking in the last segment about the need to understand why people aren’t happier before you just go out and do something. Now we’re ready to talk about the 3 steps to increase happiness in the workplace. But before we do − Gayle, how can people find you and your books?
Gayle Lantz: They can find me at www.workmatters.com, and there you’ll find links to different resources on the site.
Pam Harper: Now that we’ve been talking about some of the background about happiness, the need for it, and all of that, let’s talk about what we can actually do about it so that the listeners − when all of you get off − are going to be able to do something. I want to clarify that the steps that you’re going to be talking about, Gayle, could apply to anybody at any level of a company, correct? Could be a board member, CEO, executive…
Gayle Lantz: Yes. General tips; suggestions.
Pam Harper: Let’s go. What’s the first step?
Gayle Lantz: The first step is to play to your natural strengths and interests. So many times, I’m working with individuals at any level and they may not have clarity about what they do well. If I were to say, “what are the 3 things that you do really well, better than everyone else? Go − off the top of your head,” would you be able to answer that question? A lot of people can’t. They’ll tell me, “Oh well, here’s what I have to do in my job,” and they’ll regurgitate a job description. What they’re not well versed on is articulating who it is that they are, what they really enjoy doing, and what some of their core strengths are. Being able to be aware of what your strengths are so that you can leverage them is one of the first steps. There’s lots of ways to go about gaining more insight about your strengths that we can discuss.
Pam Harper: OK; let’s discuss it.
Gayle Lantz: [One way] might be to take some assessments. There are all kinds of online assessments. Anything from Myers Briggs, Strength Finders, DISC; there are a lot of different popular tools out there, and the whole purpose of engaging with those kinds of tools or assessments is to help you validate or confirm that there’s some key things about yourself that stand out, and to give you some clues about ways in which you can leverage those gifts.
Another way to know what your strengths is simply to have deliberate conversations with people in your network to get feedback from them, and to say “I’ve been thinking about how I’m going about my work, or thinking about next steps. Tell me how you see my work or how you view me.” Your close friends and colleagues would be glad to give you feedback to help you gain more clarity around that.
Scott Harper: I would think also that if we tune into ourselves and try to keep a mental log of when we are satisfied with what we’re doing, what do we naturally gravitate to − Is it writing reports, talking to prospects, whatever it is − if I spend more time doing it and I like doing that as opposed to something else − boom. There’s a clue to a natural strength, I would think.
Gayle Lantz: That’s true. There often patterns in our life that we don’t see. One of the exercises that I often have clients go through is to talk about experiences, very specific stories of when they have accomplished something that they’re proud of, or where they felt like they’ve really been in the moment. To dissect those experiences so that they can then draw out those themes and patterns to give them more clarity, so that they can take that into account in their thinking process.
Pam Harper: I like what you’re saying Gayle, and I think that the idea to use maybe a combination of these things sounds like a wonderful way to really get a balanced perspective.
Gayle Lantz: I think so. I think that assessments are simply a tool and a process, [however,] and note that they can be misused too, depending on where you get them or how it’s being administered. They’re simply a tool. They’re just one tool, and there’s a lot of different ways. The whole point, though, is to take some time; it usually does take at least a little thinking time apart from the job to reflect on when you’ve been at your best and to understand why is that, what are the themes, what are the skills, what was in that experience that stands out − that is helping me in gaining more insight about myself.
Pam Harper: That sounds good. Anything else on this, or we ready to go on to the second key?
Gayle Lantz: The second step is to keep your focus on what you can control and influence.
I can’t tell you how many people I meet with where a lot of our conversation is about what they worry about. It might look like this: “I don’t know if I am still in this position a year from now, and I haven’t been promoted, or I’m not at the next level. I’m not sure what I will do, or I’m not sure if there are changes happening. I can’t control them.”
There’s just a lot of uncertainty that’s reflected, and people are so focused on what they don’t know about and they don’t have control over. The more you can focus on what you can do, how you can respond, the better outcome you’ll get. It just doesn’t serve any purpose to continue to worry about those things. If you flip the focus to what you really want to do and make happen, and have a clear vision, then you can actually accelerate your progress toward whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve.
I was just going to add on to that that one of the most common examples I hear are people who can’t control other people. You can talk to some people; you can try to influence, but at the end of the day there are some people who will just be who they are. You have to get to a point where you either accept that or you decide how you will deal with it so that you can accomplish what’s the most important to you. Stay focused on those things that you can control and influence. A lot of times those “other people” are beyond what you can influence.
Pam Harper: That’s true.
Scott Harper: But if we take accountability for our own happiness outside of “those people,” however “those people” are, there are things that we can focus on and do no matter how much or how little control we have, right? That’s what you’re saying.
Gayle Lantz: That’s right. That starts with the decision, the commitment to be happy. I know it’s not as easy as it sounds, but certainly a starting point is recognizing that if you’re not in that place where you want to be, saying “I’m making a decisions that this is something that I’m either working toward or that I’m claiming now,” and that you won’t settle for anything less.
Scott Harper: If you have a personal vision, as you say: “This is what I want to do with my life. This is what satisfies me. How can I get more of that?”
Gayle Lantz: It should actually become easier or less arduous, because you’re moving towards something that makes sense to you, that you want to see happen. So it makes a lot of the other stuff in the periphery fall away that has been bothering you or eating a lot of your brain power.
Pam Harper: What that’s third key?
Gayle Lantz: The third key is to make small improvements over time.
It’s hard to make a radical shift overnight if you’re trying to make or affect major change in your life or your work. Decide what those specific small steps would be. For example, if you’re in a position and you would like to move into a higher level, you can say “For now I’m going to work on this specific skill.” Maybe it’s public speaking; maybe it’s team building; maybe it’s strategic thinking; but to say “I’m just going to focus on strengthening that skill because I know that will help me achieve what I want in the long run,” To go about it as a process instead of having an expectation that things will change overnight is really a key to success.
Anything that’s ever worth getting take some time and persistence, so breaking it in into smaller pieces so that you have a sense of accomplishment along the way will be critical.
Pam Harper: I would agree with you.
One of the things that you’ve launched that’s so clever is My Daily Coach. Can you tell people about that, because it applies to some of what we’re talking about.
Gayle Lantz: Yes, I produce that new app called My Daily Coach, which is a very simple thought or question of the day to just provoke good thinking. It’s designed for leaders and managers who want to be more deliberate about how they’re going about their work in their life. So yes that’s a perfect example of something very small.
Pam Harper: Taking control.
Gayle Lantz: Yes, to me, it all goes back to “take the bull by the horns.” Take control. You can do it. Just small steps.
Pam Harper: That’s right − and it’s free.
Gayle Lantz: Yes, is free.
Pam Harper: Anyway, believe it or not, our time is ending here. I just wanted to ask you − do you have any last thought for now?
Gayle Lantz: I think my last thought would be to view this, as I said, as a process, too know that it’s okay if you’re not sustaining happiness all the time. I think it is good to have as a goal, but to not be too hard on yourself. If you feel like you’re going through some periods where things are just difficult, to view those as stepping stones, as growth opportunities that will help you in the bigger picture. I hope that anyone listening to this will continue to have the motivation to keep moving forward, and not be concerned if they fall into some gaps every now and then, or some slumps, because that’s just part of being human.
Pam Harper: Gayle, thank you again for being our guest; we will definitely have you come back.
Gayle Lantz: Thank you for having me.
Pam Harper: If you have any questions related to today’s episode, or any episode, go to “open a conversation with” us at the bottom of the episode page. And to find out who our guest will be next Wednesday, go to www.growthignitersradio.com and look in the side bar for a schedule of upcoming episodes over the next few weeks.
Scott Harper: Thanks for listening to Growth Igniters Radio with Pam Harper and Scott Harper. To check out resources related to today’s conversation, enroll in My Daily Coach, or share on social media, go to www.growthignitersradio.com and select episode 8.
Pam Harper: Until next time, this is Pam Harper…
Scott Harper: And Scott Harper…
Pam Harper: Wishing you continued success, and leaving you with this question to discuss:
Scott Harper: What’s one thing you can do that could increase happiness at work for yourself, and others?