Tips for Managers: Discussing happiness each week

Happiness is a collective responsibility, but teams often initially feel more comfortable being led by their manager on how to discuss and improve how things are going. Here we share how you can help and what progress you can expect.

All sorts of factors influence how willing and easy your team will find it to talk about happiness. Common factors include current levels of morale, personality types and team history. If you are not accustomed to talking about how things are going, then the process of reviewing team happiness each week is going to feel very new – and perhaps a little weird.

As a manager there are some things you can do to help the team open up about their feelings:

  1. Show you care. Find a good time and place to talk about happiness, like the team meeting. Put your phone away, make eye contact and be present.

  2. Start with the positive. Make the focus of the first conversations about the weekly team building question, the celebrations and the thank-yous. If your Friday conversations only ever become this, it will benefit the team hugely: taking ten minutes out each week to take stock of what’s going well will improve wellbeing, resilience, productivity, and team dynamics.

  3. Have patience. It may take time and several attempts before people open up, even about the good stuff. And it often takes even longer for people to share and tackle frustrations. Your goal for early conversations on happiness should be to build trust in the process.

  4. Have courage. See low scores and shared frustrations as progress. They are opportunities, created by colleagues feeling brave enough to share an unmet need.

  5. Don’t go into fixing mode. Although you may be desperate to fix things, resist your temptation to fill a silence, interrupt, or offer a solution. Most of the time, managers benefit the team and the process most by being active listeners (learn how to improve your active listening skills here)

Follow these steps and your team will grow in confidence to successfully discuss happiness and improve it.