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You As Chief Happiness Officer in Six Simple Steps

There's no need to go all Patch Adams, but as the leader you are responsible for making your people happy. Luckily, it's easy.

The old saying "Happy spouse, happy house" has a corollary in your business. When your employees are happy, fired up, and bringing the best of themselves to the job every day you'll have a happy workplace, happy customers, and a healthy bottom line. Here are six things you can do as a leader to create a happier (and more productive) workplace.

1. R-E-S-P-E-C-T…

This could very well be most important tool you've got for creating a happy workforce. Respecting your people--and their decisions--will clearly demonstrate to them that you consider them to be valuable and important. Not only will this give employees an immediate boost in confidence, it will also give them a personal reason to value the organization and its success. The result: improved loyalty, greater effectiveness, and higher-quality work.

2. …Combined With Trust

If you've hired talented, hard-working people, build on that achievement by creating strong bridges of trust. How? By giving them the opportunity to do the jobs they are supposed to do. Don’t second-guess or undercut your people. Instead, support them and give them the freedom they need to get their work done in a timely matter. When there is a high level of trust within an organization, built on a firm foundation of accountability and responsibility, your people will give their very best in return.

3. Be Captain and Coach

Employees quickly become unhappy when their bosses don't give them clear direction, or when the boss keeps moving the goalposts for no apparent reason. Start by outlining a vision for your company that inspires people to join with you to achieve it. Once that vision has been communicated, help employees understand how they fit into it, and what they need to do to help make it happen. Do this by setting clear and consistent milestones that get you there together, one step at a time.

4. Feedback: The Breakfast of Champions

Providing regular feedback on work quality is a great way to keep employees happy, motivated, and on track. Instead of overlooking simple mistakes and sweeping them under the rug, point them out as soon as they occur so that employees can learn from them. Make sure that feedback is constructive, and give the same attention to a job well done as you do to errors. When employees know that they will be getting honest and regular feedback on their work, they will do everything possible to improve.

5. Flex Whenever You Can

Whenever possible, try to be flexible and roll with your employees' schedules. Sure, some things at work need to be done at specific times--a weekly staff meeting, for example, or the manning of a help desk. However, if an employee needs an accommodation for a personal reason, and is willing to flex in return by, for example, staying later, then try to make it. Be sure, however, that your people know that this is a privilege that is earned, and not an entitlement.

6. Show Your Appreciation

Do something on a regular basis to show your people that you personally appreciate the work they do. Whether that means ordering lunch for the office once a month, or holding an impromptu miniature golf tournament through the hallways, conference rooms, and warehouse, be sure that your people know you care. Make it fun, make it relaxing-;and make it real. Before you know it, your people will start looking forward to coming to work instead of wishing they could be anywhere else.

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Last updated: Mar 19, 2014


While Peter Economy has spent the better part of two decades of his life slugging it out mano a mano in the management trenches, he is also the best-selling author of Managing for Dummies, The Management Bible, Leading Through Uncertainty, and more than 75 other books, with total sales in excess of two million copies. He has also served as associate editor for Leader to Leader for more than 10 years, where he has worked on projects with the likes of Jim Collins, Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and many other top management and leadership thinkers. Sign up here to always stay up to date with Peter's latest columns, and visit him anytime at

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