Happy People are Productive People

By Gordon Tredgold © 2014

There is a saying the ‘happy people are productive people’, but what I also find is that productive people are happy people.

Which comes first, happiness or productivity, varies from person to person, some people are only happy when they are producing good results; others only produce good results when they are happy.

Either way if we can work on creating a happy environment where people produce good results, then we can create an environment where we have a self- fulfilling prophesy, one where people’s happiness leads to more productivity and where their productivity leads to more happiness, and so on and so forth.

This might seem hard to believe, but it is something that I have experienced and when you achieve it you have a very happy and productive work environment.

One of my key beliefs is that everyone comes to work looking to do a good job, and as leaders its our jobs to put them in a position to be able to do that.

We need to create a culture of success and recognition, making people feeling valued and appreciated. IF you’re having little success you can always start to recognize people by celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. How we start the recognition is irrelevant, what’s important is that we look to start that culture. As we recognize people they start to look forward to recognition and for more ways to be recognized.

In parallel with this we need to look to create small successes in the work environment which we can look to recognize, we can start small, praising people for putting in a good effort.

Many people have told me that we shouldn’t praise mediocrity; we should only praise outstanding work.

But look at how we encourage our children to walk; their first faltering step is met with huge rounds of encouragement.

No, they didn’t just run a marathon, they took a small step and then fell, yet we cheer them, we call our partners, our friends, our parents to look at this small wonder and encourage them to do it again.

Why do we do that?

It’s because we know its their first faltering step and that with our encouragement, our support and our help they will be encouraged to try again, to try to take another step, maybe two or three until eventually they can walk and even run.

So why don’t we take approach this with our teams.

Why not encourage a first faltering step, we don’t need to go overboard, we can praise the effort and tell them that maybe next time it will get better.

Let them know that we appreciate their effort, let them know in an encouraging way that we expect it will better next time and we will be watching and will be there to encourage them.

Whilst I am sure that there will be many skeptics regarding this approach, it is something that I have successfully done on several occasions at several companies.

At one company we started to measure the level of service that we delivered to our customers against the levels that we had committed to deliver.
At first, the level of service measured was low, the reports inaccurate, but at least the team were prepared to try to at least measure the reports.

Initially 0% of the services were meeting the required/agreed level.

So the first round of recognition to the team was for taking the time and effort to create the reports, to understand the process of measurement and to produce the reports on time.

Nearly all of the reports contained errors as the process was new and the team was learning.

For the next month the level of services meeting the required level was still 0%

But at least all of the reports produced were accurate, even if they still failed to meet the required level.

So we provided positive feedback to the team on the accuracy of the reports. This was important to us, because it implied people were taking the approach seriously and wanted to improve the situation.

Over the next few months the service quality improved with around 30% of services meeting the agreed service level.

For those individuals whose services met the required level we provided positive feedback and recognition for this achievement, in reviews with their peers and their manager.

Over the next few months the percentage of services, which met the required level, rose to over 50%. As the bar was being raised it required more improvement to gain the recognition at this point. Individuals were only provided positive feedback for meeting the required level 3 months in a row.

When the first team to have all their services meet the required level for three months in a row we gave them a small bonus, this reinforced how important this was to us.
That bonus also acted as encouragement to the other teams who now looked to improve their performance until all their services were at the required level.

We continued on this path, with positive feedback and encouragement and even set the annual team targets, for which they were they received a bonus, at 80% of the services meeting the agreed level for the entire year.

Now everyone had seen that improvement were possible, knew what was required to improve the service and could see the reward for getting their services to the agreed level.

That year every single team achieved the target.

One team even achieved 100% for the entire year and in recognition of that we provided a small additional bonus, nothing excessive just a small team event to show our appreciation.

The following year we set the target at 90% and again all teams met that target and overall we achieved a record level of 95%.

This significant improvement all started with us recognizing the team for delivering reports that showed our performance level was rock bottom.

But we had initiated a culture of recognition; we provided positive feedback for the small steps, constantly raising the bar for reward and recognition, until we had achieved a performance level of 95%.

As you can imagine, we had created a very happy and productive work environment, people were either happy to be successful and or happy because we were successful.

It doesn’t matter where you start this cycle with happiness or productivity, what’s important is that you start it, and then look to feed it. If you do that then you will be well on your way to creating a happy productive work environment which will be a joy to your staff.

Gordon Tredgold is the author of Leadership: It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint. Learn more about him at http://www.leadership-principles.com/en/ and about his book at http://amzn.to/1fW2lmX His blog is http://www.leadership-principles.com/en/

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.