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Managing for Happiness

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Managing for Happiness

Managing for happiness — among other things — means building for meaning, accelerating learning, and embracing playfulness.

· Agile Zone ·
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I like running experiments, and not only product-related ones. Organization and team-related experiments are my favorites, as they give me lots of positive energy.

My recent inspiration was taken from Jurgen Appelo's talk about managing for happiness. I heard it at the Agile by Example conference this year. In short, Jurgen described his approach and mindset in management. He has pointed out seven silver bullets that help him create an effective work environment.

It sounds simple, but it's powerful. That’s why I wanted to share it with my coworkers. Moreover, I decided to do it in a more encouraging way than a regular presentation. First, I decided to validate whether people would be interested in this topic. I got an overview about whether it would be worthwhile to spend time preparing a workshop. All of these led me to create a hypothesis:

As stated above, I hung a colorful poster and waited a couple of days. It worked! People started asking what it was about, what its purpose was. Having confirmation that this topic was a good choice, the next step was to agree how to run a workshop. Together with another Scrum Master, we came up with the following plan.

1. Present Our Motivation for the Workshop

I believe that a workshop facilitator owes people explanations as to why it's worth it to invest time in your meetings. Mentioning your goals at the beginning can help you creating a relationship with participants and help you leading meeting in a more goal-oriented way. Additionally, you can always refer to these ideas later. We had two goals for our managing for happiness workshop:

  • Present the managing for happiness approach.

  • Learn what we can take from this approach and how we can apply it to our daily work.

2. Apply a Connection Step

Sharon Bowman, the author of Training From the Back of the Room, says:

"During the Connections step, learners make connections with what they already know, or think they know, about the training topic."

In our case, we decided to start a workshop with an open question: What does happiness at work mean for you? People were asked to write an answer on stickies, read them loudly, and put then on a flip chart. Here are some the most interesting answers we got:

  • Have good personal relationships with colleagues.

  • Work on meaningful projects that have an impact on users' everyday lives.

  • Feel appreciated for work I’ve done.

  • Feel like I'm learning every day.

3. Presenting a Concept

As previously mentioned, we referred to Sharon Bowman's training model. The next part was a Concept step that is described by Sharon in the following way:

"This is the direct instruction, lecture, or presentation part of a training."

Together with my colleague, we came up with the conclusion that the best way to present an idea of managing for happiness would be to watch the first 15 minutes of Jurgen’s talk from the Agile by Example conference. You can check out the presentation here.

4. Understand Our Reality

Having presented the concept, it was time to reflect on our current situation. We did it as an open discussion by asking questions such as, "Where are we now?" and, "What have you tried?" While people were talking, I gathered insights on stickies to make them transparent for everyone. I wanted to underline great activities that were already happening. That’s why I visualized them and hung them on the flip chart. From the time perspective, I'm proud of things we have been doing in the context of managing for happiness, so I’m sharing some of them with you:

  • Having user-related goals.

  • Preparing breakfast together.

  • Celebrating successes.

  • Having a great office environment.

  • Being trusted.

5. Focus on the Future

During the closing round, we wanted to strengthen possibilities to experiment and learn. That’s why the coaching question, "What would you like to try or explore in your daily work?" was raised to the group. Some of the answers were:

  • Understand how other departments work.

  • Experiment with our delivery cycle.

  • Work together from a coffee shop.

From my perspective, proposed ideas are evidence that autonomy is part of our organization culture and people are open to learning new things.

Wrapping Up

We sometimes do lots of great things in our daily work without noticing it. Usually, we accept them as something that is obvious and we treat it as a regular situation. For me, this kind of workshop is a perfect time for reflection. It helps to underline good activities that happen in a workplace.

From a facilitator perspective, I had a chance to try out new techniques that could boost my workshop by applying the learning cycle. With visual facilitation and coaching questions, your training can definitely be more playful and encouraging.

agile ,work life ,agile implementation ,management ,workshops

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