Are you making your employees ‘happy’?

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One of my clients challenged me to write something that could be shared with employees about motivation. They have had a few employees leave and, during exit interviews, indicate that they hadn’t been happy about aspects of their role or the general way the business was being run. So I have written a little something for you to share with all your employees, if you dare……

The employee code

I spent most of my working life as an employee of someone. From a sixteen year old Clerical Assistant to Company Director, I’ve had a wide range of roles and a wide range of bosses. I know what it is like to have a great boss and a bad boss; a great working environment and an awful one. Whatever you perceive your current situation to be, the chances are I’ve experienced something similar to it myself.

So I’ve got some ideas I’d like to share with you. You might not like what I say at first read, but when you consider the ideas I think you’ll see that

  • they are undeniably true
  • I’m sharing them to genuinely help you.

Firstly I need you to consider an idea

Your motivation and level of engagement is YOUR responsibility.

More money, bonuses, better coffee in the kitchen and team building trips are all very nice but they won’t motivate you to raise your game in the company. Only you can do that.

Now, I don’t work with any businesses where the Directors want to make their employees miserable and the workplace a living hell. I do work with Directors who are passionate about their businesses. As a result they get get frustrated, annoyed and sometimes make bad judgements and decisions. But, none of that is deliberate.  When I see it, I call them out on it. Sometimes they learn from it and sometimes they slip back into familiar habits. They are human just like you.

At this point you may be thinking something along the lines of “Well Dave you would come out with this motivational B.S.. You get paid to make the company grow and be more profitable”.

It is true that I get engaged to help companies to grow. It works pretty well, but it is not the reason I do the work I do.  What gives me a buzz is to stretch and challenge people, to get them out of their comfortable safety zones, so that they might reach up towards their fullest potential.  Everyone I meet is capable of more than they think they are and that includes you. Extra profits and happy customers are the fortunate side effect.

So against this backdrop of imperfection in the system what do you need to do to motivate and engage yourself?


“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves” – Victor Frankl.

I’d like to invite you to measure yourself against six simple ideas. Notice how you feel when you read them and what comes up in your mind. Do you feel yourself becoming defensive or coming up with reasons why this isn’t possible for you? That’s perfectly human but challenge yourself to go beyond your excuses.


1: Wake up, Show up and Do the work

You were born in a western democracy, you are not in servitude, you have a job, you get paid and you have freedom of choice. If you really don’t like working at this job then you can always go and find another one. Just remember that your attitude has a habit of following you wherever you go.

But as long as you are entrusted with a job why not show up at your very best, do whatever is asked of you and do it to the best of your potential? Take personal responsibility for what you do and pride in even the most trivial of tasks. It will build your character and your commitment.


2: Treat yourself like someone you actually care about

Your major responsibility is to yourself. If something is making you unhappy don’t just drop it into your bag of things you keep avoiding or delaying. That bag gets very heavy over time and starts to weigh you down physically and emotionally.

Deal with it. Speak to your manager and give them feedback and your ideas. Challenge the situation and commit to using your influence and resolving it, rather than complaining about, or ignoring, it. It won’t go away.


3: Don’t procrastinate the tough stuff

We are all called upon from time to time to engage in decisions we don’t want to make, actions we don’t like and uncomfortable conversations that we’d rather not have. It’s called being an adult. Don’t overthink it, just suck it up and throw yourself into doing it as well as you can.

These small personal victories, when we move past our own internal objections and get ‘difficult stuff’ done accumulate. They reshape you, create self-confidence and are the key to your personal growth and motivation. It’s like going to the gym. The wellbeing and satisfaction comes after, not before.


4: You don’t have to join the pity party

Misery loves company. It’s easy to get sucked into everyone else’s whines, complaints and problems. Perhaps it is comforting to know everyone else is fed up and it makes us feel better about our own situation. If you have to engage then don’t be the person that sits and agrees about how miserable life is. Be the responsible adult in the room. Challenge their views and encourage and dare others to own the resolution of their own problems.

Spend your time hanging out with the people that encourage and inspire you to be more and do more. If that is hard to come by in your company then make sure you are that person.


5: Everyday a little better than the day before

Challenge yourself to get better at what you do, or to learn something new about it, every day. Learning comes pre-loaded with motivation and there is no higher personal goal than to strive for mastery (to become the expert or the very best you can be ) of what it is that you do.

Become deeply curious about the products and services you sell, the customers you serve and the suppliers and colleagues that you work with. If you want your confidence and influence to grow then start with becoming more valuable yourself.


6: Tidy your own backyard first

Finding fault in the way others are and the way the company is run is easy. It is obvious to you what is wrong and, of course, if what is wrong is other people then its not your problem is it?

But are you really working to a level of intensity, precision and effectiveness that is the very best you have to offer? Do others look to you for inspiration to raise their own game and do you go home thinking how you ‘smashed it out of the park’ today? If you want to be able to influence how others in the company behave then make sure that you are doing everything you can, as well as you can, first.


So what I am offering you here is that the behaviours that will make your company more successful are also the very same ones that will help you to feel more engaged, inspired, energetic and happy in your work. But YOU are going to have to own it.