When Is Happy Too Happy?



   As everyone knows, there are battles of various philosophies and mindsets in every organization.  People live in constant conflict with one another because, well quite frankly we’re human.   We have emotions that fluctuate, we have different external forces acting upon our lives (positive and negative), and we each come to our own conclusions on what the ‘right’ solution is to our problems (ever notice how another person’s solution starts and ends with what you should do?)…


   After watching the above video of a mom teaching her baby the word ‘happy’ http://www.wimp.com/firstword, I was reminded of a study released into the media earlier this week on the effects of happiness in the workplace.  Enter another conflict.  ”You can’t just worry about people’s happiness! If you do, things will never get done while they’re at work!”  This is the mantra most of us have been raised with.  It also comes as no surprise this teaching is further propagated by various cultural & socio-economic values that work & fun are on opposing ends of a spectrum – that is to say, they simply can’t happen at the same time in the same place!   But wouldn’t you know it, we’ve now discovered this to be completely false! 


   Turns out that happiness is directly related to productivity within an organization.  Take for example Google, who rank as one of the highest spending organizations on employee happiness.  What did they discover?   Within a short amount of time after spending more financial & human resources towards employee happiness, their productivity shot through the roof!  Some reports indicating as much as 37% higher in fact!  And yes, I hear the naysayers and those who generally put their own ‘rightness’ over their organizational well-being, saying:  “There’s no evidence to suggest that we can’t get better productivity without having to use all these incentives.  We’ll just pay them more because it’s their job to get the work done, that’s why they’re here!”


Really?  Let’s take a look at that…  The average household income has risen quite substantially across Canada & the USA over the past 10yrs (exact amounts depending on which reports you look at).  Simultaneously two other scales have gone down at an equally rapid pace in the past 10yrs –> employee satisfaction rates and productivity rates.  Coincidence?  I think not.   About 7yrs ago I attended an academic forum on the issue of relative wealth and it’s impact on organizational structures within society.  The two main speakers were co-authors on a book of similar nature.  Their presentation focused on how wealth which has traditionally been thought to be a good motivator of human behaviour, is being revealed as a poor motivator.  They argued in fact that so long as an individual has a secure amount of relative wealth compared to their surroundings, an increase in wealth has next to (and sometimes negative) impact on organizational productivity as it relates to the individual(s) in question. Translated:  Paying somebody more money to do a better job when they don’t like the job or the environment doesn’t work!


How about that?  An individual can stop caring about their productivity regardless of the money they’re being paid, but they will never stop being motivated by a better workplace environment!  Will this stop the debate?  Of course not.  The trenches have been dug deep into the psyche of many cultural, capitalist, and traditionalist thinkers who simply don’t understand how organizational growth in productivity occurs through something as simple as happiness!  Nothing gives me greater joy than going into organizations who are convinced proper placement and training of staff in team environments will yield nothing more than time and money wasted.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  I have helped several organizational environments change from being places where staff dreaded entering, to being places that actually had staff and volunteers wanting to stay beyond their required responsibilities!  I believe the same can happen at your organization!  Contact me at: http://www.mattsilver.ca and let’s create something that works for you and your organization!



Old Tv’s & Better Organizational Alignment: A Perfect Match!


I have some of the most generous friends and family that an individual could ever want.  So generous in fact that it left me with a dilemma this past weekend…  Two big screen tv’s were recently given to me by friends & family when they decided to upgrade their own tv’s.  This meant the two old 24-inch box tv’s I had been using were now unwanted in my home.

No problem.  I approached friends who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford a new tv and asked them if they would like one of my tv’s.  Problem was, I had no friends that wanted one.  I thought:  ”No problem, I’ll find a nonprofit or charitable organization that would like to have a couple 24-inch tv’s donated to them.”  Again, no one was interested.  So I decided to announce on my facebook page that two free 24-inch tv’s would be donated and delivered to anyone in need on my behalf.  All they had to do was tell me where to drop it off….Again, no takers.

I was at my wits end trying to understand why nobody would want a free tv (each weighed about as much as a baby elephant), while at the same time trying to figure out how to avoid throwing them into the local dump.  So it finally came to me, ”I’ll just take them to the local Good Will or thrift store!”  They may be old and heavy, but somebody would be happy to have them. The plan was perfect.  So I sweated, grunted, stumbled and pulled many muscles loading them into the back of my car for one last adventure with the two most used sources of entertainment in my home over the past decade.  I’d say a tear was in my eye to part with them, but truthfully I was far too busy cursing under my breath because of how heavy and awkward they were trying to get them into the car.  A trip to the donation box at Good Will seemed appropriate payback at this point in time!

So I pulled up to the donation door with a big smile on my face, a song in my heart, but a quick shift to frustration as I realized the tv’s would get one last victory over me knowing I would have to once again lift them out of the car in order to get them into the donation bins.  I was willing to pay that cost one last time.  I walked in through the door to let the staff know that I had two tv’s lined up and waiting to come in.  ‘‘Oh we don’t take tv’s anymore.”  (This is the point where you’ll have to use your best imagination and think of all those cartoons where the character’s jaw drops through the floor as they hit their breaking point of sanity).  I stood there, in silence….looked back at my car (I’m convinced the tv’s were now laughing at me)…I looked at the worker again who gave me the ”Is there anything else you need sir?” look as an indication that I’m now taking up valuable space and time.  And yes, I felt defeated.  ”I don’t want to throw out perfectly good tv’s when somebody can use them!’‘ I once again reminded myself.

Long story short, I refused to give up, drove around a large chunk of the city trying out different thrift stores that would take these two tv’s that I had to get out of my car one way or another, and after the 3rd try I found one!  Not only did I find a store that was happy to take the tv’s from me, but they were thankful.  Not in a polite, courteous, way…but truly thankful.  I told them of my adventures and they were amazed that I hadn’t given up and dumped them in the local dump.  Surely that’s what most people would have done.  I was asked by the staff member who helped me bring the tv’s into the store:  ”I’m really impressed you went through all that trouble to drop off the tv’s here, why did you do it?”  And it became clear to me, the same principles that apply to old tv’s are the same that I apply to organizational alignment: ”I didn’t give up, because everything (and everyone) that works, has a place and value that needs to be used for everyone’s benefit! Things that work well, should never be thrown out or left unused just because they’re not wanted anymore.”

It still astounds me how often I walk into an organization (or look at the organizations I am involved with now) and see how people are either being unused for their skills or have simply become discarded from anything ”important” because they don’t fit in where they once did before.  We treat our teams, staff, and volunteers like we treat our old, heavy, tv’s.  If they don’t work the way we want them to fit in, we just ignore them and hope that eventually they will fade away.  Unfortunately this leaves the organization in an unhealthy state of function where some people are ”actively aligned”, with others being ”out of alignment” in helping achieve objectives.

I’ve really come to enjoy the process of helping turn things around for organizations.  The mission statement, staff and teams that worked 10yrs ago will eventually need to be changed – that’s just the nature of an organization (and life in general).  This doesn’t mean there’s no room for the things that worked 10yrs ago however.  If things still work, then they still have value!  I love highlighting organizational leadership, staff, teams, and mission statement planning and how they still have value in the face of change.  In most cases they simply need to be utilized in a different way.  Organizational alignment doesn’t happen by accident, and it doesn’t happen by working itself out.

To learn more about how I can help your organization with it’s alignment please take a look at my website at http://www.mattsilver.ca and let’s work together on getting the most out of your mission statement, leadership, teams & staff.