“We either make ourselves happy or miserable. The amount of work is the same.”—Carlos Castaneda
Recently I conducted a very informal survey on Facebook asking friends what their definition of success was. Answers varied from “waking up,” to “working to live versus living to work,” to “achieving goals.” No one mentioned being rich, because we all know, money cannot buy happiness.
This leaves the quandary: can you run a happy company and not be entirely profit driven?
Henry Clifford wrote an excellent article this week describing how to increase profit margin. Not to give away the punch line, but he said it could be done by having your installers take home the trucks and start their day from home. Being a smaller company, this raises a big red flag for me: so much of our company culture is tied up in those few minutes in the morning. We see each other, we often have a quick stand-up meeting to discuss the day, and we lift each other up. I would say those can be the most important minutes of the day. It is where our culture is set and reinforced.
I’ve run an unhappy business before, and it was terrible—I was (and I hate using this word but…) literally ill. Never will I go back to that time, no matter how much I could increase my profit margin. Doors were slammed, angry texts were sent late at night, and it was bad. Roots from an unhappy workplace run deep!
This is no longer the case.
Today my employees and I are, for the most part, quite happy. How did I do this? I started to run my company from a more mindful place.
I treat my employees like human beings: If my employee has an appointment, I let them go to that appointment. I explain to them that I am happy to make arrangements for them to attend the things they need to do in life, if they are willing to go the extra mile when it is necessary for at work. Guess what? They understand, appreciate, and take the extra steps to get the job done when needed.
I treat myself like a person, not a robot: I have arranged it so that twice a week I pick my children up from the bus. Of course, with all the technology, there is virtually nothing I cannot do from home if needed. What I can't do from work is see how my kids are doing at school and in life. I would not know if they were frustrated when doing their homework or if they had a bad day. Being at home allows me to make sure they are becoming good human beings.
I now live an honest life: What? How can we be salespeople and honest at the same time? It is simple, if you don’t know how to do it—say so. On more than one occasion I have told a client that a project was outside our usual wheelhouse, and more than once, they went on to still make the purchase. I assure them that I will get the information needed for the project if we do not have it. It ups the trust factor, and everyone feels better about the job at hand.
In this day and age, we get mixed up in the middle of our capitalist society. We forget that when it comes down to it, we're all just humans working together. Luckily, we have the power to fix this.
And what transpires when your employees are happy?
They outperform the competition. They are more productive. Their sales are higher. They take fewer sick days. The benefits are countless, as being happy equals a better life, and you end up being more profitable.
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”—Steve Jobs