Business Leadership & Entrepreneurship

The Manifesto of a Happy Organisation

Dec 12, 2018
Reading Time: 5minutes

“Happiness is a journey, not a destination

(Ben Sweetland, an American psychologist and author of “Grow Rich While You Sleep”)

Oh, happiness, that elusive feeling – a notion we all talk about, long for and work towards on daily basis.

Happiness is no longer only a very personal, individual notion that brings a warm-and-fuzzy feeling inside; but essential in order to succeed in life: either as an individual, a team or as an organisation.

Happiness as a concept for success has become so popular that it has been turned into a professional movement and has even been written down as a manifesto. The Happy Manifesto.

In this article, you’ll:

  • learn about Henry Stewart’s “The Happy Manifesto: Make Your Organisation a Great Workplace”;

  • find out what are the 10 core principles of building a happy organisation;

  • why a happy organisation = successful organisation?

The Manifesto of a Happy Organisation

So, what does Henry Say?

Little did Henry Stewart know, that when he set up Happy Computers in his back room in Hackney some 20 years ago, the impact his Happy Organisation would have.

Who could have possibly then imagined that the author of “The Happy Manifesto” would be listed several times by the Financial Times/Great Places to Work Institute with his Happy Ltd as one of the best employers to work for in the UK? Furthermore, in 2011 the Guru Radar of the Thinkers 50 List rated Henry Stewart as one of the most influential business thinkers in the world. Henry is on a mission: to help to create more and more happy organisations where people feel motivated, valued, trusted, and in control of their life, both personal and professional.

Henry Stewart stated that in order to make a happy organisation, it was essential that they follow his 10 core principles (his book originally included 9, but Clive Hutchinson, of Cougar Automation, insisted on adding a 10th key point – ensuring you’ve got your people doing what they are best at):

  1. Trust your people

Have you ever had your Manager constantly breathing down your neck and insisting on (pre-) approving all your steps whilst claiming “I trust you 150%”?! Well, then you know exactly how it feels to be micromanaged. Micro-managing is terribly frustrating and demotivating (not to mention time-consuming). Hence let your people know they have your full support when needed, and you trust them to do the best possible job because they can, and they will simply do it.

  1. Make your people feel good

People are more productive when they feel good (about themselves). And this is very much influenced by their Employer’s approach towards them: when you believe they do their best, they will do their best. Think outside of “rules and systems” and enable your staff as opposed to dictating to them. Build a culture that is all about praising, providing constructive feedback, coaching, supporting and encouraging! Making people feel good is a requisite to a happy organisation.

  1. Give freedom with clear guidelines

In 2009, Fortune magazine asked Tiger Woods, among others, for the “best advice I ever got”. “When I was young, maybe six or seven years old, I’d play on the Navy golf course with my pop. My dad would say, “Okay, where do you want to hit the ball?” I’d pick a spot and say I want to hit it there. He’d shrug and say, “Fine, then figure out how to do it.” He didn’t position my arm, adjust my feet, or change my thinking. He just said go ahead and hit the darn ball.”  It is important for people to have a clear understanding of what is expected of them, however just as important is to give them the freedom to find the best way to achieve their goals whilst taking full responsibility and ownership for it.

  1. Be open and transparent

Companies go through different phases, however, sugar-coating and hiding difficulties will not give you any brownie points. Being open and sharing information (people do need to hear the bad news too!) makes people feel involved, take responsibility and ownership. Plus, it builds an organisation based on mutual trust!

  1. Recruit for attitude, train for skill

I’m personally a firm believer that our values are the basis of who we are, and no matter how much time and work are invested into changing them (“Oh just watch me, I’ll tame him!”). However, required skills can be taught and acquired by an intelligent and motivated professional in no time. Make your investment last and worthwhile: the right person with the right attitude and skill is the piece of the puzzle that must fit with the rest of the organisation, i.e. its values and its people. The wrong people can turn into toxic personalities and cause damage to your organisation.

  1. Celebrate mistakes

People working in conditions of constant fear of making mistakes and getting crucified for it will make more mistakes and see their motivation take a nose-dive in no time at all. Therefore, create a “no blame” environment and let people freely experiment. This is exactly how the greatest success stories are often born. I totally love the approach of Ben & Jerry’s, who have built a graveyard for all their ice-cream flavours that for whatever reason failed, and they show it off with full pride. Courage to try, freedom to experiment, and celebrating failure – my full respect!

  1. Community: create mutual benefit

Take a moment and think outside yourself, your team, your organisation. How could you together with your people make the world a better place whilst building your business? Rather than just thinking about making profit, think about making a positive difference along the way. Happy at a much larger scale!

  1. Love work, get a life

Doesn’t it seem that almost everyone (if not really everyone) has suffered or suffers from the ultramodern disease called burnout? Many professionals live with the false belief that working 24/7 is the key to success and future happiness. I remain sceptical because in order to be successful you need to be happy, right?! Hence, root in yourself and your organisation rather the belief that the world needs more people well rested, well nourished, and happy in order to make professional success stories happen.

  1. Select managers who are good at managing

Managing not only processes, but also leading people by being an inspiration, a role model, a support, a coach, and mentor. It holds very true that people join an organisation for a job, but often leave because of a manager, hence give your people a reason to stay by having the right leaders in place.

  1. Play to your strengths

Ensure you have the right people in the right positions, i.e. doing what they are best at whilst also enjoying it. This is a simple win-win situation for creating an efficiently effective, motivated, loyal and happy organisation.

Katri Delimoge

Katri Delimoge is the founder of HCD Services OÜ, a CIPD qualified HR Professional (London, UK), internationally accredited coach, motivational speaker, author, blogger & facilitator.

[convertkit form=4964423]