What would make you happier at work?

beeOn a scale of 1 to 5, how do you feel about your role in the company?
Both these questions are lifted from Jeff Sutherland’s new book “Scrum: the art of doing twice the work in half the time”.
In many sectors, including media agencies, we need to do more work in less time because we need to do more work to arrive at an optimal connected media plan.  In the last decade the number of channels and considerations to produce a plan that is connected, has no silos and is delivering effective outcomes has obviously increased.  The automation that will take time out of the process is not yet fully established.
So Sutherland’s idea is an attractive one.  More work, less time.
How interesting that the method to get there is rooted in happiness.
So how happy are you in your job?
I’ve met two people recently, both in their forties, who are counting the days till they can retire.  One’s a mini cab driver, of course the traffic in London in the last few weeks is enough to make anyone fairly miserable. The other one is a senior media executive, with a great job.  It seems to me that neither of them are spending enough time thinking about what would make them happier in their current roles and too much time planning how to escape them.
This summer I had lunch with a man in his late forties who has achieved that dream, and is planning to leave the business within months.  He’s very analytical.  He had calculated that 90 per cent of the time he is in meetings or at social events professionally that he hates.
As we enter an era of great change in the rise of robots in one form or another being capable of more and more tasks the greatest consideration at work should move from efficiency to happiness.  After all the robots can provide the former.  Only people can find the latter.

People usually say that it is other people that make them happy.  Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explains this by pointing out that we are, deep down, still pack animals.  We are bound by our heritage and we are social animals who get affirmation from approval of the leaders of our communities.  This is of course one reason why great management can make people happy.  They want the recognition of the alpha pack animal.  Our survival is no longer as dependent on it as it once was, but in the work place it can feel as crucial to have your boss recognise and approve of you.  If you’re working somewhere where your boss never appears except on their way to a very important meeting (or golf course) without you and doesn’t notice what you do then it can be very hard to be happy about your working day.
So we are like chimps in the office in that respect.  We want affirmation from the leader.  Haidt however adds that we are also “part bee”.  The bee part is crucial to our happiness too.  Bees work for a common cause, not just for individual recognition.  They don’t compete with each other within the hive.  The hive works together to make honey and ensure the survival of the next generation.  A hive-like work place is one where teams work together for a common goal.  There is less of a focus on an alpha leader recognising an individual and more on celebrating the inclusiveness of everyone in the team.
So more happiness makes for more effective ways of working.  Bees are (arguably) happier and definitely more productive than chimps.

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