21st July 2016

The Three Drivers Of Team Happiness

Teams that are happier, are more productive; fact. But that is not the only reason why you, as a business leader or a business owner should pay attention to team happiness.

You should pay attention to team happiness because it is the right thing to do, because people matter and because we can.

The three drivers of team happiness are; autonomy, mastery and purpose. Individuals and teams are happiest when they feel like they have some control, when they feel as though they have the ability to make their own decisions. Teams, and the individuals who make up those teams, like autonomy.

People and teams actually enjoy becoming more capable and competent in their roles. They like the sensation that they are getting better and reaching a place of mastery in their craft.

And finally people and teams like to feel that they are part of something bigger, that they are part of something that matters, and that is about more than just them.

To me these three concepts are more than obvious. They are self evident. They resonate with me and make real sense. I delight in being part of a team and I despair and rail against decisions that are made for me and in which I have no say. I personally value growth towards mastery extremely highly and one of my stock definitions of happiness is that “Happiness comes from progress. Progress shows up in the form of growth and a sense of contribution.”. And I wrote about the importance of purpose a few weeks ago. Purpose is about being the best we can be for reasons that transcend the day to day; the here and now. It is a lucky person who has found their purpose.

Much as though those three concepts of autonomy, mastery and purpose are obvious, like so many things they are not commonplace, and whilst not counter-intuitive they do, it seems, represent a counter common practice reality. So often both leaders and their teams reject autonomy. So many leaders feel a need to make the decisions for the rest and so often the rest shy away from the opportunity to make their own decisions. The reasons are obvious and in the light of the above are also obviously counterproductive.

We frequently see leaders not allowing their people to develop the level of mastery that they should or could and equally we see individuals spurning the opportunity to become true masters of their craft, preferring the more populist route of mediocrity. Similarly we see leaders unable or unwilling to address the higher purpose of the work at hand as well as individuals convincing themselves that work is drudgery and has no evident higher purpose. All of which results in teams that are unhappy, disengaged, underproductive and basically underutilised. Surely in 2016 we can be a little more enlightened than that. Remember that with every pair of hands comes a free brain.

I have the absolute privilege to work with and coach teams and in the process I can almost guarantee their growing sense of autonomy, mastery and purpose. It is little surprise then that I can see their level of happiness rising with every encounter. It strikes me as being the ultimate win:win.

As William Penn once said “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being, let me do it now…for I shall not pass this way again.”