Have you noticed how many "Now Hiring" signs are popping up these days? Across the country, businesses are looking for help and struggling to find it. America finds itself with a bevy of open positions and a shortage of labor to fill them. So, what's missing?
As I look back on my interactions with professionals over the last year and a half, I see more fear and less joy in the workplace. This certainly makes sense given the changes and uncertainty that the pandemic has brought. Looking ahead, I believe leaders who intentionally bring joy to the workplace can make a difference for their companies and their team members. I hope these thoughts will encourage you to take a risk and see what high joy can do for you.
Joy is a funny thing. It strengthens our relationships, reduces our stress, improves our immune system, protects our resiliency after setbacks, and spreads from person to person to transforms lives.
As leaders, we can focus on building joy at work in three ways:
1) Create Joy in Groups
Remote work has separated us physically, but some creativity can help us maintain the connection. For example, the Alloy Solutions team has found opportunities to virtually facilitate Leadership Game experiences to bring remote and in-office coworkers together for engaging and thought-provoking conversations. When we spend time together, we can recognize and appreciate each other's strengths and contributions. Together, we can create positive energy to keep us smiling more and fearing less.
2) Lean on Joy to Build Relationships
In their book Rare Leadership, Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder outline four habits of mature leaders, summed up in the acronym RARE:
Remain Relational + Act Like Yourself + Return to Joy = Endure Hardship Well
I love this reminder to lean on some basic interpersonal skills to impact the people around us. It takes intentional practice to become comfortable looking people in the eyes when speaking to them, and it lets the other person see just how much you value them. In our interactions, we can deliberately exercise curiosity and ask questions to understand what is going through another person's mind. Go about your day with an attitude of gratitude and watch the transformation that takes place around you. Finally, and most importantly, remember to smile whenever you can - you may never know how much another person needs to see it!
3) Practice Appreciation
Another favorite practice of mine is also from Warner and Wilder: the "Maturity Workout." What kind of impact could you see if you practiced appreciation for the next sixty days? Here is the challenge: Twice a day, take five minutes to deliberately practice appreciation. In the last 24 hours, what made you smile? Whether you write a thank-you note to someone or just go through a mental list in your head, spend those five minutes focusing on things around you that you appreciate. You may even collect pictures of past moments of joy. The result? An improved capacity for joy, which makes us better at handling hardships - and any leader can tell you how important it is to overcome daily hardships at work.
The ideas above may be uncommon habits, yet these tools can improve the workplace around you as you amplify your focus and engagement to transform as a leader. Today, consider: What can I do to make a difference by stepping out, speaking up, and contributing to a team that may need my talent and leadership skills to bring joy to the workplace?
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