Tracy Huston in her book Inside-Out writes of how, during a session she ran for a leadership team in a large Corporation, some members of the team suggested that one of the Company’s core values might be ‘happiness’. The group gazed at the word in thoughtful silence, she says, “as if it were a long-forgotten but beautiful dream; but then they sadly shook their heads and drew a line through the word on the flip chart for we had taught them to keep only those values they thoughts the Company would live by. And happiness was not one of them.”
Maybe ‘happiness’ should not feature as a goal in our organizations but dismissing it as irrelevant in a Company might be telling us something about how we view and manage our organizations and people. THEY too, our people, could arrive at the same conclusion and give up on any aspiration to enjoy what they are doing at work. If at least 50% of our lives are spent at work that’s a big price to pay. And for what? “Only 4 more years to retirement” a man in a Company and in our company said recently.
And it is true that happiness in Companies is often seen as being for the birds…or maybe the bees! It certainly is not for business.
But maybe it is! Maybe, even from a business viewpoint, having people at work who would much rather be somewhere else, doing something else cannot be good for business…either.
We are not saying that ‘happiness’ is up there with other goals but, if work and companies are managed well and in a truly human way, then happiness will follow. And lots of other good things will follow too like quality work, initiative, commitment, engagement …and happy people which is an important result too.
We don’t have to pursue happiness and measure ourselves on how well we are achieving it, but like the butterfly, rather than grasping after it, we can manage and lead our people in good healthy and human ways and happiness will light on our shoulders.