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3 Ways to Build a Happy and Productive Team

3 Ways to Build a Happy and Productive Team

Being happy at work? That’s for when you’re off the clock, right? You’ve heard the expression, “That’s why they call it work.” Isn’t that the way work has always been?

Not anymore.

A recent study, “Happiness and Productivity,” conducted by a pair of economist academics, has proven that happiness makes people more productive on the job.

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According to one of the authors of the research, Professor Andrew Oswald, there’s data to back up the claim: “Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google it rose by 37%. They know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.”

What this research shows is that happiness isn’t a luxury only afforded high-value Silicon Valley firms. Team happiness is not something that organizations can ignore, but rather a crucial investment in staff morale, retention, and productivity.

Whether you’re leading a small team or a large enterprise, there are practical methods for keeping your team happy while still meeting management’s targets. Here are three tips to building happy and productive teams.

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Be a Better Communicator.

If you’re not able to articulate what it is that you want people to do, they’re not going to be able to do it. That’s obvious. What may not be so clear is that by being a poor communicator you’re corrupting the bonds of trust between you and your workers, which over time will create a toxic work environment.

How do you communicate more effectively and, in so doing, help make a happier team?

  1. Listen- a lot. Communication is a two-way street. Put aside your own thoughts and ideas to really listen to people on your team and demonstrate that you’re willing to seriously engage their ideas. You can show that you’re listening (and remember what your team has said) by repeating back what you’ve heard them say.
  2. Stay on topic. When you’re doing the talking, don’t confuse the issue by going off on tangents. Have one conversation at a time, and keep your point short and easily digestible.
  3. Look people in the eye. This may seem like an outmoded idea since we all stare at our phones and multitask these days. Eye contact helps you and the listener focus on the topic at hand, and it also shows you’re focusing on listening to feedback and ideas.
  4. Ask Questions. Before you’re done with a meeting or a conference, ask if there are any questions. This helps make sure the information you wanted to get across was conveyed accurately and helps with overall team engagement, too.
  5. Build team involvement. Making your team accountable is a good start, but make them part of the process to define the goals, too. This helps them buy-in to the work, gives them ownership, and makes them fully aware of what they’re accountable for.

Respect Workers’ Autonomy.

If you micromanage every nanosecond of your team members’ day, you’re really not helping their productivity. You’re certainly not creating a happy workplace. That doesn’t mean you give workers free reign; you are their manager, after all. However, you do want to instill mutual respect, and that involves giving your team autonomy to manage their time their way.

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One of the biggest culprits of time wasting is the internet. With the web just waiting behind that spreadsheet, it’s a big temptation to check Facebook or your favorite blog, and as I said, a prohibitive climate is not a productive one. In fact, micromanagement may be more detrimental to productivity than a few idle moments online.

What do you do to encourage productivity without laying down Draconian laws?

  1. Set success metrics. If you have clear milestones that each member of your team is responsible for achieving within a specific scheduled time, then you’re saying you trust them to achieve this task on deadline the way they know best. If they need to take a break and watch a cat video then that’s okay.
  2. Offer incentives. Everyone likes to have their good work recognized, so provide the team members who go above and beyond to complete their work on time with some kind of gift. It can be as simple as buying them lunch or giving out monthly gift certificates to top performers. When you make the incentives fun, it helps build a happy team culture, too. Be sure to be fair and include everyone- not just the favored few.
  3. Offer flexible working hours. Though there may be certain periods of the day that you need your team together, the time of day is less important than meeting the deadline. Also, some people work best first thing in the morning whereas others are more suited for later hours. If you can afford the flexibility, then allow your teams to work when they work best.
  4. Offer training opportunities. Complacency is dangerous for both you and your team. You want to always encourage and enable them to be updated on new tools and techniques. Again, that investment will be rewarded by loyalty, trust, and improved productivity.

It’s not just today’s project and productivity goals that you should be focusing on. There’s always another project down the line, even though it can be difficult to see the forest when you’re in the weeds of a particular job. Future projects need to be kept in the back of the minds of everyone in the company.

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If you burn out your workforce, you’re going to have to go through arduous team building all over again. It is not only hard work to find and train a new worker but expensive as well. The Corporate Executive Board has researched the cost of replacing a departing employee and found it can be as much as 150% of their salary to replace them if you take into account lost productivity, recruitment fees, and training. Therefore, it’s crucial not only to get the job done today, but to cultivate a workplace that retains its workers.

There are many ways that companies and managers have made their organizations more attractive to their teams. Some of them are:

  1. Offer wellness benefits. If you’re able to provide employees with perks such as gym membership, a massage therapist who visits the office, healthy meals and snacks, even mindfulness meditation breaks, you reduce work stress and create a happy work culture.
  2. Offer financial incentives. Money is the universal language. While team members may never be fully loyal to a company, they will respond positively to having their hard work rewarded with cash incentives. Whether it’s a bonus or some other financial benefit, it’s a worthwhile perk to put into the budget.
  3. Extend paid leave options. It may seem counterintuitive to retain employees by allowing them to take an extended absence from the office, but it will pay off in the long run. Whether it’s personal days to attend family events, a paid vacation or sabbatical, these breaks from the daily grind allow people to regenerate and return to the job refreshed and ready to hit the ground running.
  4. Be a happy role model. As a manager you cannot be always burning the midnight oil and then telling your workers to go home and take it easy. This doesn’t mean slacking, but you want to exhibit the balanced behaviors you expect to see in your team and also work on your own happiness to be an effective model.
  5. Set boundaries. With smartphones, emails, texts, and all the other new technologies and apps to keep people connected, it can feel as if work never ends. While it’s great that you and your workers have a modern means of communication, you need to respect their privacy and have specific times when they’re working and when they’re not.

In Conclusion

That’s it. Easy, right? No. Of course it’s difficult to be happy and harder still to promote a happy team culture especially within a large organization. Think of happiness as another line item on your budget. You have to make the investment in order to get the return. Give it the due diligence that the current research (and Google) has proven, try out these tips, and see what results you get.

Bet you’ll be happily surprised.

Featured photo credit: Girl Using Laptop in Hotel Room by Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

More by this author

http://stokpic.com/project/girl-using-laptop-in-hotel-room/ by Ed Gregory 3 Ways to Build a Happy and Productive Team

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Last Updated on September 26, 2018

10 Inspirational Books That Can Change Your Life

10 Inspirational Books That Can Change Your Life

If you want to change your life, you are going to have to do things differently. Sometimes you can look to inspirational books to create a positive change in your life. If you desire change, you are going to have to step out of your comfort zone. As Anthony Robbins points out in the quote below, you are going have to experience discomfort and pain in order to transform your life. Any change, whether it be an organisation or personal, can be a painful process. However, the rewards of going through the change process are priceless.

“All personal breakthroughs begin with a change in beliefs. So how do we change? The most effective way is to get your brain to associate massive pain to the old belief. You must feel deep in your gut that not only has this belief cost you pain in the past, but it’s costing you in the present and, ultimately, can only bring you pain in the future. Then you must associate tremendous pleasure to the idea of adopting an empowering new belief” – Anthony Robbins

There are two specific events that threw my life into a tailspin, where for a while there it felt like I was losing control. These two events were, the sudden and tragic loss of my parents, and being made redundant three times in eighteen months.

With the third redundancy, I was at my lowest point in my life. I felt utterly useless. My self-confidence was at zero, and I could see no future for me.

My life was turned upside down. I knew that I had to turn it around. I just didn’t know how.

Then one wet Sunday afternoon, I picked up a book from my bookshelf called ,“The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown. I had this book for at least a year and had been meaning to read it, but hadn’t gone anywhere near a book for months.

When I read this book, I decided that I needed to get my life back. I needed to learn how to heal and rebuild my confidence, as well as my self belief.

So I started to read books. I read lots of books about inspirational stories on life, love, and happiness. Personal development and motivational books were full of information, tools, and strategies about how I could take control back and change my life. I would like to share with you the inspirational messages I got from reading these ten books that changed my life.

Read these 10 books because I believe they will inspire you, motivate you, and show you how to take action and go change your life!

    Awaken The Giant Within

    by Anthony Robbins
    The inspirational message from this book is how you have the power right now to control how you think, how you feel, and what you do. Anything you want or desire in your life, you already have the power to achieve it.

    “You and I have that same power at our disposal every moment of the day. At the moment, the questions that we ask ourselves can shape our perception of who we are, what we’re capable of, and what we’re willing to do to achieve our dreams” – Anthony Robbins

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      Screw It Lets Do It: Lessons in Life

      by Richard Branson
      Reading other people’s stories about their journeys in life can give you better perspective of what the journey of change can be about. Richard Branson is into reinvention and as a result, he embraces change.

      This book will fuel your enthusiasm to give things a go. It will show you how to sort out the self-limiting beliefs that stop you from stepping up and taking on the challenge of change.

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      “As soon as something stops being fun, I think it’s time to move on. Life is too short to be unhappy. Waking up stressed and miserable is not a good way to live” – Richard Branson

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        The Art of Happiness

        by Dalai Lama

        There is not a person I know who is not in the pursuit of happiness.

        “The Art of Happiness” is a book that will encourage you to practice the discipline of self-reflection.The more you reflect on your life, the deeper you look into your inner self (your soul). This is where you discover what happiness truly means to you.

        Knowing what happiness means to you, gives you purpose. With purpose, you’ll have clarity, focus, and a vision. These are the foundations that will empower you to embark on the journey to change your life.

        “Both these people illustrate the essential point that happiness is determined more by one’s state of mind than by external events.” – Dalai Lama

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          The Four Agreements

          by Don Miguel Ruiz

          “The Four Agreements” are Don Miguel’s code for life.

          “The Four Agreements” provide an inspirational code for life, for the way you handle your relationships, how you behave, and how you communicate with others. If you want to change your life, read “The Four Agreements”. This book will show you how to attain a happy fulfilled life.

          “If you live in a past dream, you don’t enjoy what is happening right now because you will always wish it to be different than it is. There is no time to miss anyone or anything because you are alive. Not enjoying what is happening right now is living in the past and being only half alive. This leads to self pity, suffering and tears.” – Don Miguel Ruiz

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            The Magic of Thinking Big

            by David J Schwartz

            According to Dr Schwartz, to create change in your life and to attain all that you desire, you need to change your thinking and your attitude.

            The importance of preparing your mind and your thinking for the journey of personal change is the key message of this book.

            “Those who believe they can move mountains, do. Those who believe they can’t, cannot. Belief triggers the power to do.” – David J. Schwartz.

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              Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul: How To Create A New You

              by Deepak Chopra

              Deepak Chopra believes that personal transformation not only involves the mind, but also your body and soul. According to Chopra, you cannot transform your mind without transforming your body and soul.

              Reading this book will encourage you to think about the potential energy force and power you hold within you. This energy grows when you are connected and aligned to your mind, body, and soul.

              “The key to transformation is that you create the change you want to see in yourself.” – Deepak Chopra

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                The Greatest Salesman In The World

                by Og Mandino

                This little classic has been around since 1968. Have you ever wondered what truly successful people have in common?

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                This book doesn’t really tell you how to be a great salesperson. It will; however, give you some fantastic tips on how to be an entrepreneur, how to self-motivate, and how to think like a successful person.

                The underlying message is the power of positive thinking – that you become what you think, say, and do. This book has great tactics for those of us in the process of change.

                “My dreams are worthless, my plans are dust, my goals are impossible. All are of no value unless they are followed by action.” – Og Mandino

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                  Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

                  by Richard Carlson

                  This book helps you to manage the small stuff in your life that is usually creating the most pain in your life. This very supportive book is full of great practical suggestions on how you can live a more joyful and peaceful life.

                  “True happiness comes not when we get rid of all of our problems, but when we change our relationship to them, when we see our problems as a potential source of awakening, opportunities to practice, and to learn.” – Richard Carlson

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                    Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

                    by Chip & Dan Heath

                    Have you ever tried to lose weight or get fit and never reached your goal? You know that you have to make changes in your life, but you don’t know how?

                    If you are nodding in agreement, then you need to read “Switch“. If I had to recommend one book that shows you how to create and maintain lasting change in your life – then it would be “Switch“.

                    In this book, Chip and Dan share the Secret as to how you can create and sustain change in your life.

                    Hint: It has something to do with knowing how to “Direct The Rider”, “Motivate The Elephant”, and “Shape the Path.”

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                    This book, without a doubt, will show you how to change your life.

                    “When you’re at the beginning, don’t obsess about the middle, because the middle is going to look different once you get there. Just look for a strong beginning and a strong ending and get moving.” – Chip & Dan Heath

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                      The Gifts of Imperfection

                      by Brene Brown

                      Do you ever feel that you are just not worthy enough, intelligent enough, or courageous enough to live a fulfilled happy life?

                      Do you have secret dreams that you hold deep inside of you that you don’t share in case someone thinks they are silly? Or are you too scared to follow your dreams because you fear that you may fail?

                      Brene Brown’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection”, will show you how to find your courage, as well as rediscover your self-belief and self-worth.

                      This is the book that will get you prepared to embark on your journey of change. “The Gifts of Imperfection” is about you learning how to let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are.

                      “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy — the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” – Brene Brown

                      These 10 books were key to helping me change my life. I rediscovered hope for my future. I found my courage, strength, and my self-belief. I hope that by reading these books, you will find the same inspiration and motivation to take up the challenge and change your life.

                      “If one reads enough books one has a fighting chance. Or better, one’s chances of survival increase with each book one reads.” – Sherman Alexie

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