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Six steps to a happy team

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 17 Mar 2022

In celebration of International Day of Happiness on 20 March, Nic Marks offers six ways you can make a positive impact on your team right now.

Originally founded to recognise the importance of human happiness for global harmony, the theme of this year’s UN International Day of Happiness theme is ‘Build back happier’, focusing on the global recovery from the pandemic. And when we’re surrounded by bleak news from the outside world, the need for positivity and harmony in our working life gets stronger. 

Accountancy can be a stressful job – recent research by caba, ICAEW’s well-being charity, found that more than half (56%) of accountants are suffering with stress and burnout, compared with 41% of employees across the working population as a whole. Workload, long hours and the complexity of the work were among the causes cited.

So there’s clearly a need to make work a better place, whether you’re in practice or in business, and one step is to help ensure you have a happy team. Here are six things you can do to make a positive impact on your team right away. But remember, building team happiness isn’t a one-off thing – it’s a habit. In order to create a better work environment for your team, you need to make a priority in daily, weekly, and monthly practice. 

1) Connect

We work in a team so that we can all accomplish more together. In that light, the team relationship is at the heart of everything we do. The quality of our interactions with our teammates, and the extent to which those relationships are supportive, encouraging, and appreciative, determines how we feel about work. Good relationships are a basic fundamental necessity. 

Focus on your team relationships before anything else. Team building is less to do with having ‘trust exercises’ and weekend retreats (though those have their uses) and more to do with building bonds. You build bonds by getting to know people beyond a work context – by learning who they are as people. Relationships have a set shelf life, which is why it’s important to make sure you’re continuously keeping those relationships healthy by connecting with your teammates. 

2) Daily positivity

When people feel good, they do good work. If we want to sustain a high level of performance and quality, we need to make sure our people continually feel good. How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. Teams and team leaders are often under so much pressure that they only see the next challenge. But just as important as identifying the next set of tasks is taking the time to show appreciation, and celebrating what is good today. Saying thank you to our teammates doesn’t cost anything and the returns are great – it strengthens the bonds between co-workers and increases the likelihood of receiving help when we need it. 

3) Weekly check-ins

While it’s important to have weekly team meetings to determine assignments for the week, it’s also important to take time to reflect on how the previous week went together as a team. In your next weekly team meeting, consider asking your team what went well and what didn’t. Remember, the key to making long-term happiness a reality is creating habits. If you are consistent about reflecting during a weekly meeting, then it will create a system where teams build on their successes and deal with any frustrations straight away.

4) Monthly one-to-ones

Even in pre-pandemic times, it was easy for people to feel isolated. With so many offices adopting a hybrid or work-from-home policy, the reality is that many people feel alone. Everyone has different challenges and different ways of dealing with the pressures of work (and life). In this light, it’s important to make time for monthly one-to-one catch-ups with team members. 

You don’t need a particular agenda – just set aside time to talk. Not only is this a great time to listen and learn from each other, it’s also a wonderful opportunity to connect and bond. Maybe you’ll find that your teammate watches the same shows you do or has a similar hobby. This type of bonding and talking really helps to bring out the best in people. 

5) Quarterly team days

Team building doesn’t have to be a big hassle, it can be something as simple as getting together and spending some quality time together. Get together with your team once a quarter. Share a meal (or any other kind of activity that your team may like) and let the conversation flow. This is the perfect time to celebrate your successes and learn from the things that didn’t go so well. Quarterly team days are a great opportunity to set inspiring, yet achievable, goals for the next quarter. Overall, a quarterly team day will really strengthen relationships and create more alignment within the team.

6) Measure what matters

From our business metrics to our smart watches, we have KPIs for everything imaginable. But if we really treat happiness right, we should measure it, just like any other KPI. As with any other KPI, happiness moves in waves. Some days, weeks, or even years are better than others. Our experiences of work change all the time. The best way to keep track of any trends that may be happening in the team is through measuring our team’s happiness. 

Nic Marks is a Happiness Expert and Statistician, CEO of Friday Pulse™ and creator of the Friday One Happiness Test

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