Cohesion in happiness

The sticking together of particles of the same substance or how to build a team spirit driven by the pursuit of happiness

“Making others happy is not a question of sacrificing our own happiness. Trying to make others happy, even when we do not always succeed, is a source of great satisfaction.”

(Quote from His Holiness, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama in facebook 17.August. 2018)

Serving the purpose of happiness will be a wise inspiration to get better at things. Whether you are working in a non-profit organization for the sake of humanity, nature, or a greater good; or maybe you are a politician or a leader in the public sector. Maybe you work for a profit organization and your job relates to a product or to servicing people build things, teach their kids or protect them from malicious software. Take a second and please think with me:

Is the ultimate purpose of the job you do to make someone else happy?

In my journey of transformational leadership, I have witnessed many times how pursuing and experiencing the happiness of others became the most powerful motivation and source of a personal sense of achievement and satisfaction that an individual and a team can experience.

Generally, when we work, we work with people somehow. There is great pressure for us to get along, meet expectations, communicate clearly and properly, meet quotas, SLAs, create value, you name it. One thing we sometimes tend to forget is that, in all these endeavors, we are dealing with people. No matter if it is our clients, our bosses, our CEOs or team members. We are working with people who, just as we do, want recognition, attention, and satisfaction in their day. Most of all, we all look for a sense for meaning, appreciation, and engagement in our work somehow.

Let me ask you to try this little exercise:

Find a quiet moment and try to think about – or much better -, remember, the following situations:

  • A team lead witnessing one of their team members rocking the presentation to the board of directors.
  • The e-mail from a client after weeks of an ongoing issue saying “thank you” in uppercase.
  • The slack message from your colleague featuring happy dancers to let you know something you suggested worked.
  • The laughter in the room (or video call) celebrating a joke in a well deserved break after a difficult meeting.
  • Receiving the news that a new colleague is soon starting.
  • Receiving notes from your peers after your promotion has been communicated.
  • Silently enjoying the confidence of one of your team members in a client meeting that they just 3 weeks ago didn’t think they had in them.
  • A team rocking a project for the sake of others?
  • Listening to someone in power telling how your ideas contributed to the strategy?
  • Saying thank you to someone who made your day or helped you with something important.
  • Appreciating words after a hard week.
  • Covering for your colleagues so that they can have time off.

Can you write a few more down?

What do these things make you feel? Can you relate to one or more of them?

Our individual joy and satisfaction at work are mostly related to having a meaningful purpose, even when we are not literally serving a purpose to humanity or the universe, our work – any work – mostly has the commonality that at some point it makes someone else happy or at least, gives someone satisfaction.

Your clients are people. People who depend sometimes on your product or services to complete their tasks or jobs or projects to the satisfaction of their own stakeholders. When you solve problems for them, enable them to succeed, you make people happy, as they can deliver and thrive in this achievement. When we as a team understand the simple principle of acknowledging that our external and internal stakeholders are not only “opinions” “interests” “resources” “decision-makers” “contracting entities” but foremost people – our ability to reframe our purpose at work increases. How about thinking about the situations above? Could we believe then, that pursuing happiness for others could make us happy too?

But is that enough to make us all happy?

Working as a team and being one is about cohesion. Cohesion is a wonderful word – ask Google:

More than the general definition of cohesion, my favorite one is the one from Physics: “the sticking together of particles of the same substance” – beautiful, isn’t it? Thinking in terms of a team and being a team – what could be the “same substance” that let us stick together?

  • Our shared values – what do we believe in and want to stand for as a team?
  • Our purpose as a team – The Why are we doing what we do?
  • Our vision – or finding the human value and direction of our work.
  • Our self-perception – How we see ourselves inside and outside the organisation.

One of the greatest exercises I have tried with some of the teams I was lucky enough to work with (Thank you forever everyone of you, for all I learned from you!) was defining the above steps thinking about: who are we making happy?

In diverse workshops and team building moments – which by the way, can happen within our weekly routines – we embedded discussions about the 4 points above in our team meetings and even work processes.

Here are some examples for inspiration:

  • Our shared values
    • Helping others.
    • Trusting others.
    • We respect and celebrate each other.
    • We can make mistakes and learn from them.
    • Expressing gratitude
  • Our purpose as a team
    • Making our clients happy.
    • Increasing our client’s satisfaction with our product.
    • Making our clients smile when they see us.
    • Enabling clients or individuals to have a satisfactory experience.
    • Engaging with our clients authentically and meaningfully in each interaction.
    • Using our diversity to look for the best solution.
  • Our vision
    • “We want that our clients can make the most out of their business with our product”
    • “Clients should feel empowered by our systems and support.”
  • Our self-perception
    • We are the voice of the clients in our organization.
    • We care about outcomes and take accountability for our actions.
    • We represent an organization that cares about our clients.
    • We love what we do and strive for continuous learning.

If you want to learn more about how to define vision and mission statements, I recommend this article.

Whenever we struggle to find a positive light in our days, when we struggle to find meaning and purpose in repetitive tasks – we can look at reframing our tasks and thoughts and trying what Amy Wrzesniewski calls Job crafting to find more meaning and engagement at work.

The most passionate teams are the ones that find cohesion in the awareness and responsibility of making others happy with their jobs.

Whatever it is we do, there is someone out there, to whom what we do is important.

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