6 Ways To Boost Staff Morale

Staff morale is obvious as soon as you walk into a workplace: some offices are buzzing with activity and enthusiastic chatter, some places have uncommunicative staff with long faces and a desperate desire to be anywhere else.

Employee morale is not just about making staff happy. Morale affects everything in your business: it affects communication, teamwork, productivity – every facet of your work.

Take a look at those guys in Silicon Valley. They take staff morale seriously. Their offices are great colourful warehouses of hipster fun. Table football and ping pong tables intersect the workspaces. Coffee breaks are social affairs where people talk through their projects and network enthusiastically. And Silicon Valley is the most productive and successful environment in the world!

Now I’m not suggesting that you rip out that boardroom and replace it with a pinball machine and a mustachioed barista, but there are certain key lessons we could learn from.

Reward great work

This one should be obvious: let your team know that you appreciate their work. But it so often gets missed. Sometimes it’s as simple as a ‘well done’ and a pat on the back. Sometimes you may want to make a bigger gesture: can you reward a team with bonuses, or time off? Even something as simple as a free lunch can make staff feel valued and boost morale.

Upward appraisals

Communication should be a two-way thing. Sure – you appraise your team members, but do you ever give them the chance to appraise you? Maybe they’ve got things they’d like to get off their chest. This may sound intimidating, but it’s much better to encourage an open and honest conversation rather than let the thing fester, unknown to you.

Take the time to talk

Talk to your team. I mean… really talk. Not just about the project they are working on, but ask them about their life. Do you know the names of their husband/wife/children? Their favourite sports team? What they do at weekends? You should.

I’m not suggesting that you should be their friend, but you should at least show interest in them as a human being and have an idea of their skills and interests.

Celebrate achievements

Hit that milestone? Let’s celebrate! Your team need to know that you value and understand the work they did to get you here. Instigate a rewards programme, or a staff night out. Some staff may not attend nights out – that’s ok. It’s not mandatory – it’s fun!

Shuffle roles

This is a great way to get your team to do the morale boosting for you. Give them the opportunity to shadow another team member, or temporarily swap roles for a few days. It gives your employees the chance to appreciate what other team members do, and it improves communication.

Be Flexible

Even the most dedicated team member has other commitments: family, kids, appointments, shopping. Demonstrate your understanding and your trust in your team by offering more flexible working. As long as they are putting in the hours, hitting targets and arriving at meetings, do they really need to be so fixed on 9-5 hours? Studies show that a more flexible arrangement to working hours can actually improve staff morale and productivity.

50 Signs You Might Be an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs are a unique group of people. Not only do they think differently; they act differently. They draw on personality traits, habits and mind-sets to come up with ideas that straddle the line between insanity and genius. But just because you’re an original thinker and came up with an idea to replace gasoline in cars doesn’t mean you’re cut out to be an entrepreneur. 

If you ever wondered if you were an entrepreneur, check out the following list. You may not have all these traits or skills, yet if you have some, this is a pretty good indicator that you have what it takes. 

1. You come from a family of individuals who just couldn't work for someone else. Your parents worked for themselves. Though this isn't true for every entrepreneur (myself included), many have a family history with one or both parents having been self-employed.

2. You hate the status quo. You’re a person who is always questioning why people do the things they do. You strive to make things better and are willing to take action on it.

3. You’re self-confident. Have you ever met an entrepreneur who was pessimistic or self-loathing? After all, if you don’t have confidence, how can others believe in you?  Most entrepreneurs are very optimistic about everything around them.

4. You’re passionate. There will be times when you spend an excessive amount of time and do not make a dollar. It’s your passion that will keep you going.

5. You don’t take no for an answer. An entrepreneur never gives up -- ever.

6. You have the ability to create unlikely partnerships from out of nowhere because of your ability to connect the dots. People tend to gravitate toward you because you are likable. Many times this is because of your passion.  

7. You spend more time with your co-founder than your spouse or significant other.

8. You dropped out of college like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.

9. The daily commute to your office is from the bedroom to the living room.

10. You were always a lousy employee and probably have been fired a lot. Don't worry; you're not alone. I personally have been fired several times in my life. Don't take it as a sign that you're a bad person. Sometimes it's in your DNA.

11. You’ve always resisted authority; that's why you've had a problem holding down a job.

12. You believe that there is more than one definition of job security: You realize that your job is safe as long as you are in control as opposed to relying on a boss who could ruin your career after one swift mistake.

13. Most of your wardrobe consists of T-shirts; some you probably got at SXSW. Others display your company's name or logo.

14. You have a competitive nature and are willing to lose. You always know that you can do something better.

15. You check GitHub when you wake up in the morning.

16. You ask to be paid in game tickets, shoes or whatever else you love. There are just some things that are better than money, right?

17. Your idea of a holiday is a working day without anything interfering with the tasks you really need to get done.

18. You’re unemployable, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Life skills are more valuable than the office politics commonly found at 9-to-5 gigs.

19. You work more than 60 hours a week; yet you earned more money at an hourly job when you were in high school.

20. You want to be in control and in command of your own company. You typically like overseeing most things that go on at your company.

21. You see opportunities everywhere. For example, you walk into a building and are curious about its worth or the companies inside.

22. The word “pitch” no longer has an association with baseball.

23. Your take a personality test, like one offered by the Enneagram Institute, and end up with a result calling you a "reformer type," someone purposeful, self-controlled and perfectionist.

24. You recognize that the best seats at your favorite coffee shops are those closest to power outlets.

25. You’re a logical thinker with ideas about how to correct problems and the overall situation.

26. Speaking of problem solving, have you checked to see if there's an app for that? Perhaps you've already begun to create a business model and the software architecture to see if it’s feasible.

27. You’re a people person. You have no problem communicating with people.

28. You regularly quote Steve Jobs mainly to keep yourself from falling to pieces.

29. You sold stuff as a kid like at a lemonade stand. Heck, when there were class sales, you were probably one of the top sellers. 

30. You get more SMS alerts from people you follow on Twitter than from actual friends listed in your address book.

31. You’re a self-starter, meaning you don’t give up on a project until it’s completed.

32. No matter what you do on a daily basis, you always think of it in terms of delivering a return on investment.

33. Your dress code is shabby chic and your suit is just collecting dust. You prefer T-shirts and jeans over a suit any day.

34. You’re unrealistic. As an inventor or innovator, you kind of have to be this way.

35. You think outside of the box. If not, what will change?

36. You’re a charming and charismatic person. 

37. Rules don’t apply to you. We’re not talking about breaking the law. Instead, you believe in efficiency and will bend rules to make things run smoothly.

38. You realize that you can’t do everything alone. You have an idea and can promote it but also know that you’re not skilled at every task of running a business.

39. You’re very opinionated. That's another reason you got fired a lot.

40. You’re unpredictable. As an entrepreneur, you know how quickly things can change. Thankfully, you're ready and willing to make adjustments.

41. You enjoy being with a group but don't relish much being alone. You probably get most energetic when working with groups of more than four people.

42. You’re determined. You have to make the impossible possible.

43. You have the support of your friends and family. These are the people who get you. And they’ll be there to support you along the way.

44. It’s normal for you to take a nap under your desk to catch up on sleep. After all, getting eight hours of sleep sometime between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. is antiquated.

45. You’ve done the market research. You know that just because you have an incredible idea doesn’t mean that it’s profitable. But you’ve already looked into whether customers will make the purchase.

46. You surround yourself with quality people -- not leeches who will bring you down.

47. You’re a bit out there. Having the ability to create something out of nothing takes a mad-genius type of person. Remember, people thought Albert Einstein was insane before he proved the theory of relativity.

48. Did you ever ask your family, friends or significant other to send you a calendar invite so that you could talk for all of five minutes?

49. You believe that your time is worth more than money.

50. During your most recent rant about growth hacking, your spouse or boyfriend (or girlfriend) totally understood what you were saying. 

Even if you don’t have all the above traits right now, you’ll probably develop more of them over time. After all, being an entrepreneur is a lifestyle, not a job or hobby.

Article originally published on Entrepreneur.com

Article originally published on Entrepreneur.com

7 Things Remarkably Happy People Do Often

Happiness: Everyone wants it, yet relatively few seem to get enough of it, especially those in their early 40s. (I'm no psychologist, but that's probably about when many of us start thinking, "Wait--is this all there is?")

Good news and bad news: Unfortunately, approximately 50 percent of your happiness, your "happiness set-point," is determined by personality traits that are largely hereditary. Half of how happy you feel is basically outside your control.

Bummer.

But, that means 50 percent of your level of happiness is totally within your control: relationships, health, career, etc. So even if you're genetically disposed to be somewhat gloomy, you can still do things to make yourself a lot happier.

Like this:

1. Make good friends.

It's easy to focus on building a professional network of partners, customers, employees, connections, etc. because there is (hopefully) a payoff.

But there's a definite payoff to making real (not just professional or social media) friends. Increasing your number of friends correlates to higher subjective well being; doubling your number of friends is like increasing your income by 50 percent in terms of how happy you feel.

And if that's not enough, people who don't have strong social relationships are 50 percent less likely to survive at any given time than those who do. (That's a scary thought for loners like me.)

Make friends outside of work. Make friends at work. Make friends everywhere.

Make real friends. You'll live a longer, happier life.

2. Actively express thankfulness.

According to one study, couples that expressed gratitude in their interactions with each other resulted in increases in relationship connection and satisfaction the next day--both for the person expressing thankfulness and (no big surprise) for the person receiving it. (In fact, the authors of the study said gratitude was like a "booster shot" for relationships.)

Of course the same is true at work. Express gratitude for employee's hard work and you both feel better about yourselves.

Another easy method is to write down a few things you are grateful for every night. One study showed people who wrote down five things they were thankful for once a week were 25 percent happier after 10 weeks; in effect they dramatically increased their happiness set-point.

Happy people focus on what they have, not on what they don't have. It's motivating to want more in your career, relationships, bank account, etc., but thinking about what you already have, and expressing gratitude for it, will make you a lot happier.

It will also remind you that even if you still have huge dreams, you have already accomplished a lot--and should feel genuinely proud.

3. Actively pursue your goals.

Goals you don't pursue aren't goals, they're dreams, and dreams make you happy only when you're dreaming.

Pursuing goals, though, does make you happy. According to David Niven, author of 100 Simple Secrets of the Best Half of Life, "People who could identify a goal they were pursuing [my italics] were 19 percent more likely to feel satisfied with their lives and 26 percent more likely to feel positive about themselves."

So be grateful for what you have, and then actively try to achieve more. If you're pursuing a huge goal, make sure that every time you take a small step closer to achieving it, you pat yourself on the back.

But don't compare where you are now with where you someday hope to be. Compare where you are now to where you were a few days ago. Then you'll get dozens of bite-size chunks of fulfillment--and a never-ending supply of things to be thankful for.

4. Do what you excel at as often as you can.

You know the old cliche regarding the starving yet happy artist? Turns out it's true: artists are considerably more satisfied with their work than non-artists--even though the pay tends to be considerably lower than in other skilled fields.

Why? I'm no researcher, but clearly the more you enjoy what you do and the more fulfilled you feel by what you do, the happier you will be.

In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Anchor says that when volunteers picked "one of their signature strengths and used it in a new way each day for a week, they became significantly happier and less depressed."

Of course it's unreasonable to think you can chuck it all and simply do what you love. But you can find ways to do more of what you excel at. Delegate. Outsource. Start to shift the products and services you provide into areas that allow you to bring more of your strengths to bear. If you're a great trainer, find ways to train more people. If you're a great salesperson, find ways to streamline your administrative tasks and get in front of more customers.

Everyone has at least a few things they do incredibly well. Find ways to do those things more often. You'll be a lot happier.

And probably a lot more successful.

5. Give.

While giving is usually considered unselfish, giving can also be more beneficial for the giver than the receiver. Providing social support may be more beneficial than receiving it.

Intuitively, I think we all knew that because it feels awesome to help someone who needs it. Not only is helping those in need fulfilling, it's also a reminder of how comparatively fortunate we are--which is a nice reminder of how thankful we should be for what we already have.

Plus, receiving is something you cannot control. If you need help--or simply want help--you can't make others help you. But you can always control whether you offer and provide help.

And that means you can always control, at least to a degree, how happy you are--because giving makes you happier.

6. Don't single-mindedly chase "stuff."

Money is important. Money does a lot of things. (One of the most important is to create choices.)

But after a certain point, money doesn't make people happier. After about $75,000 a year, money doesn't buy more (or less) happiness. "Beyond $75,000... higher income is neither the road to experience happiness nor the road to relief of unhappiness or stress," say the authors of that study.

"Perhaps $75,000 is the threshold beyond which further increases in income no longer improve individuals' ability to do what matters most to their emotional well-being, such as spending time with people they like, avoiding pain and disease, and enjoying leisure."

And if you don't buy that, here's another take: "The materialistic drive and satisfaction with life are negatively related." Or, in layman's terms, "Chasing possessions tends to make you less happy."

Think of it as the bigger house syndrome. You want a bigger house. You need a bigger house. (Not really, but it sure feels like you do.) So you buy it. Life is good... until a couple months later when your bigger house is now just your house.

New always becomes the new normal.

"Things" provide only momentary bursts of happiness. To be happier, don't chase as many things. Chase a few experiences instead.

7. Live the life you want to live.

Bonnie Ware worked in palliative care, spending time with patients who had only a few months to live. Their most common regret they expressed was "I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."

What other people think--especially people you don't even know--doesn't matter. What other people want you to do doesn't matter.

Your hopes, your dreams, your goals - live your life your way. Surround yourself with people who support and care not for the "you" they want you to be but for the real you.

Make choices that are right for you. Say things you really want to say to the people who most need to hear them. Express your feelings. Stop and smell a few roses. Make friends, and stay in touch with them.

And most of all, realize that happiness is a choice. Fifty percent of how happy you are lies within your control, so start doing more things that will make you happier.