What makes people truly happy at work?

What makes people truly happy at work?


You are missing the point if you believe pay, perks, incentives, soft furnishings, football tables, groovy colours, and toys make shiny, happy people.

All those perks have a place, and fair pay is absolutely key, but they are all distractions from the work.

The question is, what makes people happy AT work while working and in the process we call work?

You need to stop for a moment and look at people engaged in their work, that is, people who experience their work as worthwhile. 

My father had a saying, “Make your work your hobby, and every day is a holiday.” Just dwell on that saying for a moment.

People do hobbies because they are passionate about the topic, activity, or subject matter. They collaborate with other like-minded people and readily share their knowledge and expertise. They engage with other people and use their knowledge, skill, passion, and energy and do it joyfully. 

Another group to consider is...

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Seven Building Blocks for Designing Organisations for Growth, Innovation and High Performance

You started doing it your way - Why Stop Now?

Changing any growing organisation may seem daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Mastering the building blocks of organisational design empowers you to create your unique design so that your organisation grows and succeeds just as it needs to.

The changes needed are like changing the plane while it’s still flying.” The best people to do that are the people on the plane. You don’t need an engineer from ground control to fix it. 

What makes any organisation unique is the dynamic fusion of the people, their behaviours, their platform, their language, and the overarching vision. And, of course, the products, services, and experiences it sells to its customers. In their unique way, they influence, contribute to, and shape the conditions of the organisation, paving the way for the exciting emergence of a distinct culture that customers recognise and desire.

Change is inevitable.  Every leader must understand the...

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A different Approach to Communication

A vital component of leadership is inviting everyone in the organisation to engage in dialogue. Effective communication is key to success in any organisation. However, relying on the boldest, the loudest, and the most forceful is not always conducive to effective communication. In fact, it can sometimes sideline or even suppress the most valuable contributions. As a leader, how you speak can dramatically impact the contributions you receive from those you are conversing with. Demonstrating your willingness to communicate differently, invite dialogue and listen intently to what people say shows the employees that you are willing to show the way by changing first.

One clear symptom of poor leadership is when people with leadership positions surround themselves with ‘yes people’ who don’t challenge them and only say what they think their leader wants to hear. These appointed leaders often seek ways NOT to change to protect their position. But they are not true...

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The War For Talent

development of people Jun 02, 2023

Attracting and Retaining the Best Talent.

Last Sunday I read a fascinating article in the Sunday Times by Jamie Nimmo titled “The War for Talent”. 

It was a strange title and I am not sure who the combatants are. Companies in all industries need the best talent and the only way of getting them is through attraction. Maybe the war is between immoral tactics and moral tactics but in reality, it is between the old mindset and a new mindset.

The old mindset believes that pay is the ultimate weapon in a company's arsenal regarding recruitment. Yes, they also think about benefits and perks, but the old mindset thinks, “if I pay enough, people will do what I want them to”.

The new mindset has evolved from this old-fashioned command and control culture of paying more to get allegiance. They have learned that true allegiance is not bought but earned.

In reality, these two mindsets coexist in every organisation, which is the ‘war for talent’. The...

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The lessons leaders just don't learn

leadership Nov 20, 2022

The leadership model of charisma, strength, and confidence is the picture postcard image of a great leader. But history shows us that it's not outstanding leadership but a bad case of hubris, pig-headedness, stubbornness and inability to listen.

It seems that the longer a leader is in a position of power, the more they emulate this model until it's too late.

A leader requires self-esteem, which means they have the competence and moral fibre to lead. But without the ability to listen, especially to the voices of doubt and disagreement, they seem to develop an arrogance that they find hard to set aside.

Churchill had learned the lessons by the time he was appointed PM and led Britain to victory over the Nazis. By his admission, he certainly did not show outstanding leadership in World War 1, especially at Gallipoli. He later wrote, "I seem to have been too ready to undertake tasks which were hazardous or even forlorn", acknowledging his pig-headedness, his stubborn attachment to his...

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We need Genuine Leaders To Transform Organisations

There is a lot of talk about leadership right now, and not just in political circles. Charismatic or celebrity leaders get much more press than great leaders. Why is that?

I think it is because when we are talking about great leaders they embody a set of  characteristics that include:

  • Seeking out and recognising potential champions
  • Building people up
  • Being true and aligned with your stand whilst listening to challenging opinions
  • Setting aside political aspirations and self-interest
  • Being the champion of and in service of the strategic intent
  • Being open and honest
  • Taking care of your people
  • Listening with respect to everyone’s communication
  • Being appreciative of the efforts of others
  • Being true to your word
  • Expressing yourself fully
  • Inviting dialogue

None of these was newsworthy for today's clickbait media until Russia invaded Ukraine.

When these characteristics are applied by leaders, the outcomes are extraordinary because people around them respond with a like mind and...

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The 'Social Contract' We Live By.

Wherever you look there will be a social contract underpinning the culture that exists. The way people act, behave and even look is determined by it. We are all bound by a social contract either consciously or more commonly, unconsciously. Your relationship to the social contract you live in is determined by how far from the core you are. When you are close to the core, as with the Marines, everybody knows the conditions defined by the social contract. You literally live or die by them on the battlefield and the strength of the community is evidence of how committed all of the individuals are to that contract,  In the Marines you “sign up” consciously.

But look for a moment at a different culture, one where it would seem that people are victims of society but actually are living within a different social contract. In every city, there are no-go areas for the police, or areas where the homeless gather or people sleep out on the street. Even though the people living...

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Who’d want to be a champion?

If you have ever had that burning feeling in your gut for a change that needed to happen, then you might have had the urge to become a champion. And, for many, there is a reason why that was as far as it got. And it comes down to self-esteem, courage and culture.

For change to succeed, the conditions need to be supportive. That support is most easily seen and felt through the culture that we exist in. And we, as potential champions, need to have the self-esteem and courage to step up to the stage and be counted.

Every initiative starts with a champion, and what happens next depends on the culture that exists. 

In the business world, we can consider three different existing cultures. The startup, the merger/acquisition and the reorganisation. In all three, the champion is for their new vision, which will lead to the emergence of a new culture. One barrier, if not the most significant barrier to a new culture emerging, is the attachment people have to the existing culture.


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