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#105 How to be Happier at Work in 2024 with Aoife O’Brien
The 360 Leadhership Podcast, Episode 105, 27 December 2023 by Lucy Gernon
Is happiness at work REALLY possible?
As we step into January, the festive glow starts to fade, the reality of returning to work can feel a bit gloomy as we start on another year of hustle and bustle.
The initial joy of Christmas balls and celebrations is replaced by the realisation of – How will we survive another year in this rat race?
And that’s why this week’s episode I am excited to introduce our fabulous guest Aoife O’Brien.
Aoife, the founder of Happier at Work HQ, a passionate advocate for creating the right work environment that not only increases the team’s bottom line but also helps individuals reach their full potential.
Join us for a conversation that uncovers the secrets to creating a happier workplace
Here’s the episode at a glance:
[4:22] REVEALED: The top 3 causes of unhappiness at work
[10:04] Are you ignoring your top strength?
[17:51] What Keeps Your Team Members Happy at Work?
[22:37] How to navigate the micromanagement like a pro
[33:10] Want to be happier at work? Try this FIVE game-changing tips
Prefer to read?
Welcome to the 360 leadership podcast, the top rated show for driven women in senior leadership with new episodes released every Wednesday. I’m your host, Lucy Gernon, a multi award winning executive coach for women leaders and the founder of 360. Leaders Club exclusive high level membership for career driven family orientated women just like you. I created the 360 leadership podcast to share practical tips, actionable step by step strategies and inspiring stories to support you to unlock the power and belief within to accelerate your impact and potential so you can build a life filled with success, balance and happiness. So are you ready to achieve 360 degree success? No more excuses. No more waiting. Your time is now.
Welcome back to the 360 leadership podcast. I hope you’re doing really, really well. today. I’m really excited because it’s January, gloomy January to bring you a topic today that I think you are really really going to enjoy. So I am joined by a fabulous guest today. Her name is Aoife O’Brien and she is the founder of happier at work HQ, a career culture and wellbeing platform for forward thinking leaders. She is passionate about fish and especially how creating the right environment can help organizations increase their bottom line, which we all want, while supporting their teams to reach their full potential at work. She has been featured in by the national media platform as public speaking of ants, she talks a lot about impostor syndrome fit, employee engagement, productivity and remote working. She also has an award winning podcast called happier at work, which features a combination of interview based episodes as well as solo episodes, and has a global audience of over 100,000 listeners. She has lived and worked in Dublin, London, Perth and Sydney and has a master’s degree in work in organizational behavior, a diploma an executive life coaching and a certificate in career coaching ephah what a credential You are so welcome to the podcast. Thank you Lucy, can I just say what an absolute pleasure it is to be here. I’m a big fan of your podcast. Absolutely love it. I follow you on Instagram. And I just feel like we know each other already from that. So it’s an absolute honor to be here. Thank you so much for the invitation. Oh my God, I am so happy for you to be here. Because what I didn’t tell you actually and go this is me being totally authentic and real. When I first started my business, I came across you and I remember when I saw what you did, I was like, oh my god, someone stole my idea. I can’t believe it. I’m never going to be able to have a business because it’s EFE. Regardless, how can people be happier at work, and I want to help people be happier at work. And now you’re on my podcast. And I just I couldn’t be more thrilled to hear your story. Thank you. There you go. I really appreciate that. Thank you all. But it’s true, though, like and I think sometimes as women, you know, and that’s why I love collaborating with other women who do similar things, because I just think together we can make a bigger impact. Whereas there’s a lot of people who have this kind of a scarcity mindset of well, this is my thing, and I won’t help other people but I’m just not like that. I don’t think you are either. No, not at all. Collaboration is better than competition, as they say. But one thing I will say for people who are listening today, it’s really important to share women, especially women hosted podcasts. I am sure you do this as well, Lucy have a scroll to well, who’s doing what in the charts. And typically, it’s 90 95% men in the top 10 the top 20 And it kind of infuriates me because I know women are underrepresented in podcasting generally speaking, they’re underrepresented in a lot of different areas. But I think like if we could get more women listeners listening and sharing women hosted podcasts like that, what are our issues and what are our unique experiences at work I think it’s really important to do that 1,000,000% So girls there’s your call to action go and share this podcast episode right now just pause it for a second and grab the link pop it in your whatsapp groups put it on your social media and help us spread the word because it is also important on your soul right souls Alright, so let’s jump into the topic so it’s January It’s gloomy people are you know back to work they’re starting to the Christmas balls is starting to wear off and now they’re realizing oh my god I’m here for another year. How am I gonna survive another year in this rat race? So firstly, talk to me a little bit about I suppose what causes unhappiness at work in general that you see. So I’ll share kind of a quick synopsis of my own career history I worked in similar to yourself Lucy I worked for 20 years in corporate different industry completely. I worked in market research in the fast moving consumer goods industry. And as you mentioned, I worked you know, in various different places around the world. Now I was really happy in work I really driven I really enjoyed work for the most part until a couple of different things happened in today.
For an organization’s, which made me question myself, which made me feel like I didn’t deserve, it made me feel really a real lack of confidence and it impacted on loads of different areas in my life as well, not just in work. So the first one was, when I was made all of these promises that were made delivered on. So Eva, we want you to be director of this business, what kind of director would you like to be there’s a few different options, you can manage a team, you can be a specialist, all of these different things, brilliant, all of these really positive signals. Fast forward a couple of months later, and they have promoted my male colleague and friend to be my manager. And they didn’t communicate that. So
you can imagine, and I can still feel it now to this day, frustration, disappointment, anger, I was so pissed off that that had happened. And I didn’t know what I had done to cause that issue. I questioned it. So I went to the head of the department and I questioned him about it. Now he’s a bit of a weasel. Let’s say that’s a polite way of explaining how he operates. He says, Oh, well, you know, this new situation, he’s more your supervisor. And if you want to be mentors, then you need to go to his boss. And I just saw this, and I’m not going to get anything from here. And because I was in Australia, I felt or maybe they felt that it was the golden handcuffs, they had sponsored my visa, they probably thought she’s going nowhere. So we can do this, and we can get away with it, because she’s never gonna leave with sponsored reviews and everything. So that kind of prompted the thinking that I’m taking now that happened all about 12 years ago, thereabouts. And it got me thinking, What could I have done differently in my career? What equally what could the organization have done definitely to retain me. So this kind of brought me on this journey that I’m on now. It was always in the back of my head. And when I went on to do my master’s, I explained this situation to one of my lecturers, and she said, that sounds like a debt issue. So there it was, that was the answer plain as day on happiness at work means when we feel like we don’t fit in, in the job that we’re in, okay. And for me, there’s three elements to that. And this is all from the research that I did as part of my master’s. So we feel like we don’t fit number one values. So if I think about that situation that I explained in Australia, total lack of transparency, there is total lack of responsibility from from the people who are making those decisions. Okay, so that was a misalignment of values, there was no obvious values that we talked about, or that we shared in that organization, it was just, this is how the company operates. And you can see how it operates. And it really went against what I stood for myself. So that was, number one. Number two, then is need satisfaction at work. So how, how are our needs being satisfied. And if you would ask me even five years ago, if at what are your needs at work, I’ll be like, I have no idea. But you know, when your needs are not being satisfied, because you feel really frustrated. And then the third element is about working to your strengths. So knowing what your strengths are and spending most of your time working to those strengths. So they are kind of simple framework that I use in relation to happiness at work. Okay, I am obsessed. Like I love that because that’s one thing I say a lot as well as especially about the strengths and you notice anyway. But like in positive psychology, we know that when you’re in alignment with your strengths, you’re in flow state, you’re going to produce better work. What a lot of people are in the roles in roles that are like you said, they’re not the right fit for from a skill set perspective or restraints perspective. So I’m really curious, like, because I’m thinking back to me when I was when I first started in pharma, for example, like I’m a people person, okay. And all of my strengths are in what I’m doing now. But I was yet I’d master’s degree in science, I was, you know, I was a science. So I was in a role that used to drain my energy sometimes because it wasn’t in alignment with my strengths. So how can I suppose leaders listen to this, look at their teams and leverage their strengths? Yeah, yeah. And I want to kind of relate that back as well to a story. So I made a very this is before I knew what I know, now, of course, but I made a very deliberate decision. I had two options at this was at a later roll back in Dublin. And option one was to be on the senior leadership team in an area that I had no interest in and wasn’t really particularly strong at. And option two was to report into someone else on the leadership team in an area that I really excelled in. And quite frankly, other people were saying to me, I should be leaving that area. Of course, what did I choose and I probably would still choose this again to be you know, knowing who I would have had to report into, but I chose option one. An area not in my strengths, but that’s how
I ended up where I am now. So I stayed in that role maybe a year and a half later. And it really is worth my energy. I’m the kind of person I know you are like this as well, Lucy, I really like to give a role in my all I really like to excel in what I’m doing. And I don’t like to feel like I’m in a role where I’m not really working to the to the top of my abilities to the top of my strengths and getting that great feedback that you get from that situation as well. So I think if you find yourself in that situation, the first step is to know what your strengths are, there are so many tools online, that you can take that you can assess, like what are my strengths? What are my some of my hidden strengths? What are some of my maybe blind spots that I’m not aware of. And it really starts with that self awareness. And this is something we never talked about when I was in corporate, but we didn’t talk about what each other’s strengths were. So I think just openly talking about what you’re really good at. The other thing that you might find really surprising is like, I know, I know this about you as well. I love a good spreadsheet. Like if someone hates spreadsheets, or you have loads of spreadsheets. I hate another story. That’s another story. I love spreadsheets so they could pair me and you will together to work together. Do you know what I mean? So why don’t I always say that on this podcast? I hate spreadsheets more than life itself. I will procrastinate to death if I have to go through data. And that was one of the reasons I left my corporate career was that
capital finance and was like the clincher in the end. So this is a really good example. Right? So if if there’s leaders listening, now, you have somebody doing a roll, like me, who really hates finance, but you’re giving it to me, because I’m really good at organizing other things. So you think I can organize this thing? And then you have ephah? Who loves spreadsheets, but you don’t even know she likes spreadsheets? Because you’ve never asked her right? Yeah. How can leaders listen, though in that example, I think is a good one. Yeah, how can they even uncover that? I think being upfront about it, and even encouraging people to take StrengthsFinder tests. So there are various different quizzes that you can take online, there’s so many different ones I can, I can share links with you as well, you see, there’s some that are free, there’s some that are paid. There’s some that are very well known. There’s some that are less well known. But I think just doing that as an exercise with your team, to know what and then openly talking about, oh, Lucy, I didn’t realize that you don’t like spreadsheets, I thought like you’re really brilliant at organizing everything else. But I kind of thought that maybe you were great at organizing the spreadsheets as well. And then someone else pops up and goes, well, actually, I quite liked you and I don’t get to do enough of it in the role that I’m doing now. And it’s not to give people more work. But it’s more to distribute the work in a way that makes the team more effective, because people are doing stuff, you’re not going to love your job 100% of the time, but if you enjoy your job 80% of the time, I think that’s, that’s a pretty good target to aim for. That’s, that is so so good. And like just to go back on the strength thing, right? Because I do think it’s so so important that, you know, in terms of happiness at work, if you and your team are operating in your in your zone of genius in your area of strength, you’re definitely going to be happier. And you have obviously said that. But like I remember being asked by my boss, and I remember like, when I was younger rice, this is for those who are starting out. And being asked that question like What are your strengths? Like it feels it’s some people really just don’t want to answer it, or they really don’t know. So how, you know, like you had said about doing a session maybe like, how would you recommend a leader might do a session where especially with more junior people who really don’t understand, I think this is where the tools come into the realm. So actually use an external tool to identify what those strengths are. Now, let’s kind of talk about people who are in their careers a little bit longer first. Oftentimes, we don’t necessarily know what our strengths are, we might be blind to our strengths, because they’re things that come easily and naturally to us anyway. And so since starting the podcast, people have commented on my ability to like to summarize the key points are to reflect back to a person what they just said to me, and articulate things. I never knew that that was a strength of mine, because I’d never done it before. I’d never thought about it in that way before. So I think another important part of it is to ask other people, what do you think my strengths are? Because sometimes we don’t even realize what we do well, and like this is kind of a random, non work example. But I love escape rooms. And if I ever do an escape room, people are like, how did you figure that out? How did you put those two dots together? And I don’t know how he did that. That’s just something that comes naturally to me like I make that connection. I can solve a puzzle by putting two pieces together or I’ll remember something that was over there.
If that needs to be connected to that other piece. So essentially what I’m trying to say with that point is ask other people what they think your strengths are. Now for people starting out, it could be thinking about, well, what were you interested in when you were younger? Now if I think what I was interested in, I was interested in Murder, She Wrote, I loved what he did to judge the Murder, She Wrote, she wasn’t a murderer. Wink, wink.
So I love to better Murder, She Wrote, I loved all of those kinds of crime type of shows, I love doing jigsaw puzzles as well. And I still love doing jigsaw puzzles. So think about those kinds of things that you did in your spare time that were not related to school.
And that was show an area that you’re kind of interested in, and probably an area that you’re good at. Because why would you continue doing something in your spare time if you if you didn’t really light you up? Or if it wasn’t something that you kind of did naturally anyway? Yeah, love that. Absolutely. Love that. I was just gonna ask you, there’s something on the juniors the strength. Oh, yeah. So when you were saying, especially about younger, banana, even younger people, it’s all of us really, especially with leaders, how I think it’s super important to deliver that positive feedback regularly on what people’s strengths are like, what would you say to leaders because they tend to, you know, we tend to jump in with what’s wrong, and how we can fix things like what would you say around that piece? I am that person, I can pick out like, oh, well, this needs to be fixed. And that needs to be fixed. So as me myself, I can recognize that in myself, I need to actively work on that. And I think when you’re delivering feedback, and it’s not about the shit sandwich, I think people have kind of copped onto the ship so much these days. They’re like, oh, good feedback, terrible feedback. Good feedback again, but all you hear is the terrible feedback, I think it’s important to reiterate what someone did. And if they, if they didn’t do something brilliant, find the good in what they did to, you know, if they didn’t manage something in the way that you manage it, did it still actually get done, even if it wasn’t done in the way that you expected? Focus on the things that were actually positive in it and pick out what those positive things were. I think the other really important thing with feedback is well, first of all, to set really clear expectations upfront. So be really clear. And I always talk about be clear about time, and quality. So how much time do you think that this should take? If a person who’s working to their strengths is doing it? How much time should this take? And what is the quality look like? What is good enough look like? And does it need to be excellent? Or does it need to be good enough? Those kinds of things upfront, it makes it much easier to have conversations when something is finished. But to your earlier point, Lucy don’t forget to tell people that they did a really good job on something and be so specific about what was good about what they did. So you know, an example that always sticks in my mind. And this tells a little bit about who I am, as well is they’re from below deck. I’m not sure if you watch below deck, no. Okay, another reality TV show where they’re, they’re working on a Yash. They’re put in close quarters, and there’s fire, you know, there’s fiery relationships and all sorts of stuff like this, with a captain on the boat one time, the piece of feedback he gave was simply, you did a great job that tells No, and that tells you nothing about what actually he did. What did that Captain see in him that inspired him to say that you have to be so specific, I liked the way you took control of the situation, I liked the way you responded to the guests, I like the way you, you have to be so so specific about that. And maybe it’s a case, you know, put a reminder in your phone every single day to pink or pick one person in your team to give some positive feedback to and something I hear so much from just from out and about is that people leave when they don’t get that sort of recognition, they feel so undervalued at work. And it’s such an easy thing to fix. Just tell people how they are valued in the organization. And I made so many of these mistakes myself when I was working in corporate as well. Like it came to the stage where someone
she was talking for a pay rise and don’t get me started on the whole politics around pay rises. And that can only happen at certain times of the year. And she was a really crucial member of the team. And then she said basically, I’m going to leave unless I get a pay rise. And you can bet that the leader in Ireland found that money somehow to make sure that she stayed because he knew that if she left that would leave a huge hole in in the team, you know, there’s no way that she would have been replaced without someone putting in serious amount of areas in terms of the capital that she’d built up to the relationships she had built with the client. Like just a huge hole to fill. So
let people know that they are important. Let people know specifically how they contribute to the team, I think it’s so important to make that link as well between what an individual does on a day to day basis and the impact that they have on the team on the department and on the organization as a whole, to show that they are important. Yeah. Oh, my God, I love that. And like, you know, on the pay rise thing, I think, going back to what you said, and bringing it back to kind of happiness at work, like if people feel valued, in your experience, like, do they stay? Do they leave? And what’s more important, is it the salary increase? isn’t feeling valued and belonging? Really good question. And the research shows basically, that once you earn a certain amount, you earning more, it doesn’t bring more happiness, essentially. So there’s kind of a base level that you, you have to have a certain amount to be comfortable to live. Now, this ties in with this idea of need satisfaction at work. So we have, we have a need for money. That is why most people work, they work because it’s an exchange for a salary. And you need a salary in order to live to pay your bills, your mortgage, whatever it might be.
That’s an extrinsic motivator. That’s something that comes from external to us. But what you want to focus on beyond money are the intrinsic motivators inside us and their needs at work. So things like autonomy, feeling a sense of choice and control over what you do and how you do it. You can have too much autonomy where you’re a little bit directionless, you don’t know. And some people struggle with this when they get to those senior positions, because they’ve always had someone else making the decisions and telling them what to do. When you get to that position, you need to be the one to make those decisions. And it’s a really hard mindset shift to make. So you can feel a sense of too much autonomy, but you can also have too little autonomy, where you have someone managing every little thing that you do. And I know that everyone listening today has some experience of a micromanager. They’re checking your calendar, they’re going through your work with a fine tooth comb. That is a total and utter lack of autonomy. And the important thing is to find a balance between those two. And finding a balance is hard, because different people will have different needs for autonomy. And certainly when you start out in your career, you need much less autonomy than you do as you progress through an organization. When you start in a row, you need much less autonomy, then when you’re a bit more comfortable a couple of years down the line. So it’s finding that kind of striking a balance there. I have two questions on that just before we forget, right. The first question is, if I so if we’ve somebody listened today who feels like they’re being micromanaged? First of all, you know, maybe they’re sitting there going, like, I’m really not happy in this role. My boss is just, you know, constantly checking in on me and all of that. Yeah, do like, what advice would you have for that person? The second question for him forget, is how can our listeners who are managing teams not be that leader? So there’s two parts? Okay, two parts to it. Absolutely fine. So number one, I have a manager who is totally micromanaging me. And that was me, I’ve heard that a few times. So I think so many people can kind of relate to this. And I think there’s a few different things, you need to knock it on a test, you need to have that difficult conversation with the person. And it’s not about them being a micromanager. It’s the put the focus on you. So it’s like anytime you’re delivering feedback, the feedback, it’s not about the person, it’s about the behavior, and the impact that that behavior is having on you. So I’ll use my personal example. What my manager used to do was check my calendar, he used to go into my calendar every day and see, oh, Eva has a whole load of free space on her calendar, she needs more work, I’m gonna pile a whole load more work onto her. Now, I didn’t have a whole lot of free time I wrote my tasks down in a notebook separately that wasn’t going into my calendar, it wasn’t time blocking or anything like that. So he was piling all of this extra work on me, and basically leaving me to fend for myself. I had nothing, not, you know, I couldn’t say anything. So it’s having that difficult conversation upfront addressing the issue and the impact that it’s having on you. The other thing that you you can do is anticipate so if they’re checking your work all the time, how can you sit down and reflect and anticipate why they’re doing that wash? You can do to alleviate it. So they’re doing it because they’re, you know, what’s their motivation for for actually checking in? Is it that they don’t trust you? So then how can you build a better trust with them? Is it that someone else is leaning on them? You know, what are the reasons behind this and put yourself in their shoes? There must be a reason that they’re doing this do they want better sense of control? How do you give them a better sense?
To control, can you send something in advance so that they don’t have to check in on you? Can you send stuff in, in the interim? So if you’re if you have a deliverable, for example, that’s not you for a couple of weeks, and then you give it to them, and they’re going through it saying this is wrong, that’s wrong. Can you get check ins on the way to say, Can you provide a bit of guidance, it’s anticipating those kinds of things that is going to not cause you heartache when you kind of finally go to deliver something at the end. So that’s what I would say from the if you are being managed by someone like that. Okay. Just before we move off that one that I told again, totally couldn’t agree more, I talk with that myself a lot as well. But the biggest block I see with people actually implementing that is having the courage to actually set boundaries and stand up for themselves. So what are your tips around that?
That’s a that’s a toughy, isn’t it? And, you know, similar to myself, when I was in that role, sure. I didn’t say anything. I was staying in the office and I was crying my eyes out, everyone else had gone home. This was in Sydney, there was a very much a nine to five culture, people weren’t staying beyond five, they’re going out for drinks in the evening and stuff like that. So it is it is hard, but I think you need to put on your big girl knickers and actually do it. If you want something to change, you have to take responsibility. No one else is going to come in and be like, poor ephah. Look at her, she’s staying all of the late hours, you have to take responsibility for that. And if you want something to change, and you have to communicate it, there’s no two ways about it. No one else is going to do that for you. There are some things in life that you can outsource that you can get other people to do. But there are some things that you cannot outsource and that you have to learn to take responsibility for yourself. God just got chills, listen to each other’s words, listen to her words. Wow. No, it’s their soul. Right, like sources. Alright, and so on back to the second part of that question, then if we have leaders listening, who are that micromanager on to you know, can’t really release any of that control? What would you say to them? I think there’s a few different aspects to this, there are some people who are micro managers who probably have no idea that they are micro managers, and they need to
maybe get feedback, maybe get feedback on their leadership style generally, that’s not to say that they’ll get the feedback that they’re a total micromanager, because people are not going to say that to them directly. But if they can seek out that feedback as a leader, whether you are a micromanager or not, I think consistently getting feedback, asking for feedback and showing that you’re open to feedback and making changes because of the feedback. Knowing what feedback to implement and whatnot, you know, it’s at the end of the day, it’s a judgment call from yourself, you need to decide what you take on board and what you don’t. If you are aware that you have those kind of control issues, let’s say, again, like where is that coming from? Is that due to a and this is oftentimes related to perfectionism. And I have this as well, you know, you want things done to a certain standard. But it goes back to setting those clear expectations. Are those expectations too high? In the first place? Where are those expectations coming from? And not to get all kind of psychotherapy about it, but thinking back to your childhood and
childhood trauma comes into everything though, right? It
shows up in so many different ways. So Did someone tell you that you weren’t good enough? Or were you praised for getting so many good grades, whatever it might be, there’s some reason that you’re showing up and that you want to be and maybe the biggest message is that it’s okay, if you make a mistake, and it’s okay, if things don’t go wrong. And in the long term, you have to think about what is the impact on the team? Have you controlling everything Have you being that blocker Have you being the what’s the word the when you’re like in the funnel, and the they’re totally holding up everything. The word just says Scotland like a bottleneck. That’s exactly the bottleneck, that is the word I was looking for. So when you’re holding everything up, that’s causing an impact on your team. Think about the impact on the team on a personal level, they will feel like they’re not good enough that they have to get check in they have to get buy in for everything that they’re doing. They’re not clear. They’re not maybe getting that reassuring positive feedback as well. So it’s going to have an impact on their career development. When they go to step up to that next level. They maybe feel that they’re not good enough to get to that level. It’s a cultural thing though as well. Like I think like you know, I would have been a controller and it’s something I have had to work do a lot of work on under perfectionist like I went for therapy and everything because of my perfectionist tendencies. So I have to really watch that
And you know what I always say, when it comes perfectionism is a perfectionist 80% is as good as anyone elses 100%. So if something that’s the rule I live by, if I’m you and something now when I do find myself wanting to fix things and make them up to my standard, and all this kinds of I kind of just purposely stopped myself, and I just go good enough is good enough, it might not be the way how I would have written, it might not be how I would have designed it, but I’m gonna let it out. And guess what happens? Nothing fucking happens, right? And the thing is that we have to get over this fear of like, well, if I don’t control everything, because you’re going to lose your team, if you if you keep behaving that way, right? Yeah, yeah. But it’s not even that nothing happens. I think what does happen is that your team feel capable, they feel empowered, to continue doing what they’re doing. So unless there’s something that’s drastically wrong, and you need to provide that feedback, then I think it’s fine to continue. And, like you say, really catch yourself when you’re jumping in to try and rescue like, there’s another great episode on my podcast where we talked about this concept of over and under functioning, I had a guest who wrote a book all about the anxious achiever. While I don’t relate to being anxious, necessarily I related with a lot of that book. So maybe I do
underlying anxiety. But over versus under functioning, you have to have both in there is like a symbiotic relationship. So if you are an over function, or there has to be someone in your team who’s been under function, or who’s allowing you to be like that, Oh, hello, and over funktioner is going to be jumping into the rescue, they’re going to be checking stuff before it goes out, they’re going to be over functioning Bush, if the owner funktioner stepped up and did the work. If they challenged them a little bit, then they couldn’t continue as an over funktioner. You know, that behavior wrong beast won’t be stored for but if someone is there, kind of coasting, and well, I’m not going to do this to the best of my ability, because I know my boss is gonna come in and check it anyway and tear it to shreds. So I’m just going to put in the minimum amount required, I’m going to share that. And we’ll all be good. But that’s like not the case. Oh, my God, I love that over vs. Like,
I know that I welcome that I welcome. You know, I think all over functionaries of people who need control, all we’re looking for is a sense of okay, everything is under control. So it’s about like, being able to instill that in the other person and take some of that kind of anxiety from them, which is idea. Yeah. And was something that just occurred to me now. And this is since starting my own business and on working with other people. One thing that that really bugs me is when people don’t take responsibility when they make excuses. And I think as an over funktioner, that’s where I’m kind of like, well, I’m going to step in, and I’m going to fix this. And I’m going to do that. And I’m going to make sure that this goes out the way it should, rather than the other person, you need to find people who can take that responsibility, like you said, Lucy, and hand over control to them, because you know that they are a responsible person. Yeah, absolutely. Oh, my God, I love this conversation. So I wanted to ask you, just before we kind of wrap up, right?
Like, there’s just so much my head is spinning here. But there’s so much good stuff happening, has been in terms of like leaders who are listening now. And they really want to retain their team and make them happy. What would your top three to five tips be for? Happier workplace and 2024? Yeah, so I think it ties in with everything that I’ve talked about today, let me kind of put it in a framework for you to have your at work framework. So the first piece is the values piece. And I think, if you can articulate and use the values in any one to one meetings that you’re having in any of the team meetings that you’re having, talk about the values and how the values are lived, and how people are demonstrating the values and how people’s personal values align with the organizational values. I used to do this with my team where we would do a value share and recognize other people within the team for living the values. What I didn’t realize at that time was that we all have our own personal core values as well. And it’s important to make sure that we recognize those and how those values align with the organization’s values. So that’s the kind of the first piece the the values piece. Then there’s the need satisfaction which I touched on the idea of autonomy. There’s also
two more universal needs that we have. So one is for relatedness. That feeling a sense of belonging with your team so that you feel like you’re part of a team that you feel like you belong to something. But the other important piece of not an idea touched on it earlier is knowing the contribution that you’re making as an individual. So how can you explicitly let people know the contribution
and how their day to day contribution relates to what the organization is trying to achieve. So make that really explicit when you do this, this and this, this is the impact that it has on our team, on our department on our organization. And providing that type of feedback, I think is invaluable. And it doesn’t even have to be feedback, it can be generally speaking a person in this role. But I think linking it back to people’s unique strengths,
as well earlier just on that around, setting the reminder in their phones to do it every day, because I think they’ll it’ll become a habit, it’ll be something that will just naturally develop. Cool. It’s so think how you feel when you receive a piece of positive feedback, especially when it’s unexpected. So it doesn’t have to be like, I think getting the habit of doing it. And it doesn’t like it might seem a bit staged if you’re doing just the same person every day in the week or something like that. But it helps you to build that habit, I think. Yeah, absolutely. The other needs then is a need for competence. And that’s feeling capable of doing your role. I know we haven’t talked about impostor syndrome today. But when you don’t have that feeling you feel like an impostor. But when you have too much of it, you feel like you’re lacking challenge, and that you’re a little bit bored and complacent. And so that’s the need satisfaction piece. And then I know we talked about strengths as well. So I think if you can get those pieces, right, so I would say the values alignment piece, like linking people’s individual values with the company values, linking what people do on a day to day basis with what it is that they are, what the business is trying to achieve. And then focusing on strengths, talking about our strengths, and how we can bring more of our strengths to the roles that we’re doing. My God, I absolutely love that. Love it. So we have values, how they’re contributing, how they’re impacting, they’re satisfying their needs, their strengths, and all that good stuff that is fab. So how, how can people I suppose, finally, like, how can people leaders implement this? Like, would you recommend the you know, obviously, hire people like us, so they can do it themselves? What would you recommend? Iris Iris? Well, exactly. Yeah, I think like, there’s people out there. And you’ll know yourself as well, Lucy, there’s so many organizations, or there’s so many organizations out there who are not willing to invest in their people. Yeah. And I think they’re the ones who are scouting for free stuff they’re listening to podcasts are trying to do stuff themselves. I think if that is you, and you are working for that kind of organization, maybe reconsider and see, can you find an organization that does invest in people because Surprise, surprise, there are organizations out there who do invest in there.
If you do work for an organization who does work for people, I think there’s huge benefits and having an outside perspective coming in, to work with your organization on these kinds of things. Like it’s not,
obviously, myself and yourself. We’re in business, we’re here to sell a service, but it provides invaluable outside perspective on what it is that you’re doing as an organization, there could be some blind spots, you never even knew that you had whether a blind spot as a leader, a blind spot as a team. Or it could just be that psychological safety that people need in in an anonymous way that they’re talking to someone who doesn’t work in the organization who doesn’t have control over their salary or their promotions or anything like that. And you get that real feedback from people when, when they’re not in a high stakes conversation. Yeah, so I think it’s so important. So if they do want to implement it themselves, then yeah, I’m not sure what to say. We listen to this podcast, episode, and setup.
If not, we link it up as details in the show notes.
So if it just before we wrap up, there’s a question I always asked my guests, which is what is the best piece of advice you have ever received? I think the best piece of advice is to be grateful. I’m not always great at doing this bush, I need to remind myself, be happy with what you have with where you are. I think it’s so important to remember that when things go horribly wrong. So as we’re recording this, I’m in Tenerife at the moment and the weather has not been great for the last couple of days. What I have to remember to be grateful to be here, especially if I compare to what my other situation could be, is I could be in Ireland and getting taxane, it’s freezing here and it’s raining and I hope when you come home, you have some warm clothes to put on you. So sometimes we forget because we’re so used to being in a situation we sort of take it for granted. So it’s so important to remember where you were remember where you could be and be really grateful for where you are. Oh my god, I love that I’m all about the gratitude. Amazing effect. You’ve been an absolutely amazing guest where can people find you? I think since you’re listening to this podcast today, the best place to find me is on your podcast platform. So search for happier at work.
work and you will find the happier work podcast wherever you listen to podcasts. The other two places that I’m quite active are LinkedIn. And for the non Irish speakers, I’ll spell it my name so it’s ephah spelled AOIF. E. O’Brien. I’m very active on LinkedIn. And I’m also quite active on Instagram, maybe not as much as Lucy but I do love Instagram as a platform really nice behind the scenes type of stuff. And you’ll find me there on email@example.com which is the same as my website. Amazing look, we will link all of those links in the show notes. Anyway guys for you if you want to reach out to Eva Eva, thank you so much. I’m so jealous that you’re in Tenerife. I know the weather is not great, but it’s literally frosty here today. So I would take 10 Rain. Exactly.
Need to remember those so much for being here. Thank you so much, Lucy. It’s been an absolute pleasure. I absolutely loved this conversation. And I hope your listeners take so much from it as well. Absolutely. I know they will thank you Aoife