Friday, May 17, 2013

Your Happiness Is Not My Problem

Happiness is an individual choice.  Morale is a choice that can be affected by an individual.

On a Tuesday, in early May 2013, I listened as Linda told me about what had happened the day before.

"The store manager began calling department managers and supervisors to his office, one by one.  No one likes being called to his office because it almost always means he's upset.  This was no exception.

"'I can't make you happy,' he told Linda.  'That's not my job.  My job is to run this store and sometimes the things I have to do make people unhappy.  Your happiness is your problem.  Not mine.  If you can't be happy here then you should find someplace where you can be happy.'

"That was the essence of the conversation.  My happiness was not his problem."

Linda, along with other managers and supervisors in the store, was confused and upset.  The morale in the store had been low for quite some time and instead of addressing the issue, the manager decided to let people know it wasn't his responsibility, as if that would fix it.

Linda was surprised when I told her the manager was right.

She'd come to me expecting a sympathetic ear.  Instead, I was agreeing with him.  As she began to respond, I stopped her.

"Happiness is a state of mind.  No one but you gets to decide why and when you're happy.  Not me, not your husband or children, not the store manager.

"But, your manager is a bit confused.  He thinks the word 'happiness' is interchangeable with 'morale.' There are some similarities, but they aren't the same.  Morale isn't happiness.  It's more than that.  Morale is the collective enthusiasm, confidence and attitude of a group as a whole, in this case, the employees of your store.

"He's not responsible for your happiness, but part of his job as a manager IS the morale of the store.  It's not ALL on him, but as the leader he sets the tone.  A leader who doesn't understand how their attitude and actions affect the morale of the employees isn't a leader.  They're a boss.

"Bosses never get the best from everyone all the time.  They don't understand that morale is an important measurement of how the business is doing.  They may get the job done, they may individually succeed (which is frustrating to others), but they rarely excel.  Leaders excel because they have teams behind them that believe in where they're going and what they're doing."

"So what should I do?" Linda asked.

"Don't let him affect your happiness."

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