Do Happy Team Members Really Make a Difference? tagged:

Do Happy Team Members Really Make a Difference?

Posted by in Ty Kiisel: Strategic Project Management

Happy WorkerSeveral years ago I had a colleague declare to me, "I don't think it's important that you're happy at work. It's just a job anyway, why all the fuss to find happiness at work?"

He was a much younger colleague and was working in a field outside of his college education, so I guess he was trying to justify settling for his current job when he really wanted to be doing something else. I must disagree with him. Because I spend the lion's share of each day working, it's hard for me to imagine doing something that was unfulfilling or distasteful for the rest of my life. How about you?

In a recent article titled How to Build an Army of Happy, Busy Worker Bees from CNN Money and written by Linda Mignone, she writes, "Aside from it sounding sensible, recent studies have demonstrated that the happier a worker is, the more productive they will be on the job. While an employee may appear engaged in their work, they may not be as effective as they could be if they were happy."

I've observed this to be true during my career. She continues, "People who are happy at work put in far more effort, work longer hours, and are more productive than those who aren't. They remain at their jobs twice as long and they work 25% more time than an unhappy employee works."

I've really come to appreciate what appears to be the culture at Zappos. They seem to be honestly concerned about the work environment and whether or not their people are happy. According to Zappos founder Tony Heisch, happiness at work begins with giving employees a sense that they are part of something bigger and that they feel connected to the work they do. I couldn't agree more. I believe people have a fundamental desire to accomplish something meaningful.

Mignone suggests something I've been supporting for quite a while now, "Have the team establish their vision for getting to a solution, creating their own time-lines and benchmarks. It's important to provide guidance along the way and hold them accountable, but the goal is to give them autonomy."

Quoting Jessica Pryce-Jones, CEO of HR consulting firm iOpener, Mignone writes, "People want more sense of control. [When organizations put] in more controls, they get the opposite of what they want." She continues, "Pride, trust and recognition from the company are critical factors in happiness. Give the team the resources they need to get the job done and provide them with recognition that they are part of an important project even before they begin."

Mignone also suggest that we give the team visibility at the highest levels of the organization and give them opportunities to present ideas to senior staff—and let them know that they are responsible for those ideas. "When employees feel like they have some control over the work they are doing and when they feel like they're making progress, they are generally happier and more productive, and these feelings are often amplified when employees are part of a team." writes Mignone. "A team makes a bigger, bolder, richer sound, with more layers, like an orchestra. And the richest sounds come when the team feels they are part of something big; a big idea, a vision."

These are themes that I personally agree with. Unlike my discouraged colleague from a few years back, I believe it's not only important for us to be happy at work, it's critical that we create an environment within our project teams where individual contributors can feel like they are part of something important, gain recognition for their contribution and be happy.

What do you do to create a happy and productive environment within your project teams?