Another important idea (first published in 2016) worth revisiting. Enjoy!
You can’t inject happiness in the organization. You can’t put happiness capsules in the water supply. You can’t prescribe happiness, as in ‘be happy!’
You can’t make people happy, but you can organize for happiness. What you can do is to create the organizational conditions in which happiness comes out.
Imperatives such as be happy, be positive, be excited, be proud, be grateful, be (add state here) are behavioural nonsense.
I know many people don’t like to hear this; that it sounds against much conventional wisdom. But the truth is that you can’t prescribe emotional states. Not in the organization, not anywhere else. What you can do is to ‘architect the place’ in ways that people may feel and behave in those ways.
If you hear an employee saying that she is proud of the company, ask why. Whatever she says will give an idea of the conditions and circumstances that led her to that state.
I would argue that not only imperative tense emotional prescriptions are behavioural nonsense, but also are a big distraction, and perhaps an alibi, for leaders who should focus in those input-conditions.
Be happy, be proud, are easy. Creating the conditions for these is another matter.
Detect this kind of prescription BS. Call it out. Focus on creating remarkable places to work. Happiness won’t be hard to see.
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