One of the most popular books of recent years was Marie Kondo’s The Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Kondo’s book stresses the benefits of decluttering your home and making life simpler by only keeping the items that “spark joy.” It teaches you how to declutter. It stresses that we tend to clutter up our lives with unnecessary objects. Paring them down can bring you happiness.
You can apply this same philosophy at work. What if your leadership team had the chance to analyze their roles and responsibilities according to the criteria of “spark joy?” Could you limit some of your management duties? What activities do you enjoy the most? Where are you most productive? If you can focus on activities that make you feel productive and give you pleasure, don’t you think you would feel better about your work?
Perhaps one member of your leadership team enjoys identifying the strengths of your employees and helping them develop these qualities. In his article for Harvard Business Review called “What Great Managers Do,” Marcus Buckingham talked about the gift some managers have for identifying the unique abilities of each employee and allowing them to capitalize on them.
When a manager helps someone on his staff develop his unique capabilities, the team will benefit. Buckingham stressed that it takes time for a manager to learn how to identify his employees’ strengths and weaknesses: sometimes, he walks around the office and observes them at work. However, if you have a leader who thrives on identifying your staff’s strengths, he will know how to reinforce these qualities, give employees praise for a job well done, and see the team benefit.
If, as a manager, you are most productive when you are motivating your team, and less happy when you must analyze countless spreadsheets, then it’s time to delegate some of the accounting to a staff member and focus on your team. When you face some problematic headwinds, acknowledge them. Brainstorm in a meeting about how you can overcome the obstacles the group faces. Let them know that you understand their challenges.
Spend more time on what you enjoy
Another way you can spark joy among your leadership team is to encourage each manager to spend more time on what he truly enjoys.
Are your managers knowledgeable? Practical? Upbeat? These are qualities that identify good managers, those who make coming to work enjoyable for the rest of the staff. If a manager tells you that he likes solving problems and looking for ways to streamline cumbersome billing processes, let him do this. Encourage his ability to wade through a puzzle of regulatory restrictions to find ways to get billing and payment done quickly.
If you are a manager who is spending time on what you enjoy, you are cultivating your strengths, and your positive attitude will influence everyone who works with you. Your workplace will be one where employees thrive.
What about the activities in which you do not like to invest your time? Maybe you are not a numbers guy, but you know that one of your staff members is. You have a good reason to delegate the activities you do not enjoy. You will be giving your team member more responsibility, a new challenge, and you will be lightening your load. It’s a win-win.
You must be honest with yourself and realize you cannot be all things to all people. There are bound to be duties that you do not enjoy. You’re only human, and you have your unique likes and dislikes. When you are willing to address these preferences honestly, you are one step closer to that state where you can spark joy.
Get it, want it, have the capacity to do it
In his book Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, author Gino Wickman explained that as you clarify who is accountable for what at your firm, you need to use the filter GWC. GWC stands for get it, want it, and capacity to do it.
If you want to make sure that the people who work with you are accountable in their jobs, you want to make sure that they are adequately performing, and that they get it, want it, and have the capacity to do it.
When your employees truly “get it,” and understand their roles, and the culture in which they work, you will see them “spark joy.”
When staff members “want it” and genuinely like their jobs, they will make a big difference to your team. You don’t want someone on the project who doesn’t want it and who takes a lackluster attitude towards their responsibilities. When an employee wants it, you know. Their enthusiasm is contagious and the team will thrive, as well.
Do your employees have the capacity to do the job? Wickman explains that “Capacity means having the time as well as the mental, physical, and emotional capacity to do a job well.” You may hire someone for a 55-hour- a- week job, then find out he is only available 40 hours because he is also attending night school. That’s important. Make sure that each of your staff can do the job, and you will be on your way to making sure that they “spark joy” with their work and make a difference to the atmosphere of the office.
“Spark joy” and beat the competition
One of the great benefits of instilling an attitude of “spark joy” into your leadership team, is that the positive attitude is infectious, and produces happier employees.
Statistics in a blog on employee happiness show that:
- Companies with happy employees beat the competition by 20%
- Happy employees are 12% more productive
- Happy salespeople produce 37% more sales
- 36% of employees would give up $5000 a year in salary to be happier at work
- Employees who report being happy at work take 10 times fewer sick days than those who are unhappy
As a leader, you want to cultivate a work style that takes advantage of your strengths, that enables you to focus on activities which you enjoy, that allows you to develop a positive attitude among your employees.
Once you realize that by learning how to “spark joy,” and eliminating the duties you do not enjoy, you will be more willing to spread this happiness to your team and everyone at your company.
“Spark joy” seems straightforward. Are you willing to try it? The benefits could drive your company and your employees to a new level of excellence.