The Happy Secret to Better Work

happy secret to better work
 
A Happy Secret to Better Work? Let me share one of my favorite TEDTalks with you—The Happy Secret to Better Work.
 
 
In his very humorous talk, Shawn Archor talks about how our world view affects our happiness. Seems obvious.
 

He also says, though, “75 percent of job successes are predicted by your optimism levels, your social support and your ability to see stress as a challenge instead of as a threat.”  

So what do you, as a manager, do to build that optimism and resilience among your team? I’ve written about the need for feedback, both constructive and positive, in the past. How can we link that to building that ability to see stress as a challenge and not a threat?

I’ve incorporated several of Shawn’s lessons in my life, including keeping a running gratitude list.

Gratitude journaling is a happy secret to better work. Open gratitude journal on a table with a vase of flowers nearby and a hand holding the journal open and a hand with a pen writing in the journal

Even on the most craptastic days, there is always something out there that can add beauty to our lives. And if I am really struggling to find something, I create something to be grateful for. On those days, I reconnect with friends, set a (virtual!) coffee date, or even plan a trip (one of my favorite activities!). I usually write my list before I even get out of bed in the morning as a way of framing the day in the most positive sense possible.  

What are our post-pandemic happy secrets to better work?

As I consider this Ted Talk, I think about how times have changed since Shawn delivered this talk. When Shawn delivered this talk, we were not coming out of a several-years-long global pandemic. One of the lessons that I learned through managing a remote team during COVID was that we built and constantly reinforced the expectation that we will change, evolve, and pivot as needed to address COVID. In some ways, knowing that more change will come, even if we don’t know what it will be, disallows the team to settle into complacency or routine. The routine IS change. That clear-as-can-be communication has been crucial.  As I consider my work going forward, I will take that lesson with me: to build a resilient team that is adaptable to change.

Tell me about your happy secrets!

  • What is your happy secret to better work?
  • How have you built up your own optimism and resilience?
  • What tricks do you have up your sleeve for keeping the optimism on your team?
  • How have those skills served you now, given that we are living through this pandemic?
  • What new skills have you been able to tap into?

Feedback

Not to toot my own horn, but I tend to be quite good at accepting feedback and and incorporating it into my work.  I value feedback as an essential tool of collaborative work and as a means of ensuring that multiple voices and perspectives are heard and incorporated.

Of course, I’m sure we’ve all had those painful moments when we’ve gotten unsolicited feedback so late in the game that we end up facing a sleepless night on the eve of a big event or before a deadline.  Oh, the wound is still fresh!

In any case, we can always try to be proactive about getting feedback.  I like the AWARE model for asking for feedback that is highlighted in this talk:

Ask for feedback, 
Watch your emotions, 
Ask questions to clarify, 
Reach out for perspectives, and 
Engage your potential.
 

I particularly liked the description of why feedback can be difficult–as it lives in that tense spot between the need to learn and grow, and the need to be accepted just the way we are. Yet, becoming comfortable asking for and giving feedback helps to hone our growth mindset and helps us see feedback as a gift. 

Consider watching the video with your team and leading them in a discussion about how they like to get feedback from you and how you can solicit feedback from them.  A sign of a healthy team is one where feedback is readily given and received and expected. 
 
Can you shift your mindset to one of growth and see feedback as a gift? Your challenge for the week? Ask for feedback from one of your colleagues by using the AWARE model.