Our Most Radical Belief on Management

In: BlogDate: Feb 03, 2012By: Henry Stewart

I often say that our most radical belief at Happy is this: you should decide who should manage people based on how good they are at managing people.

Because too often they are chosen on their core skill or how long they’ve been in the job.

We worked with one company who had a problem with their Marketing Manager. Let’s call her Sarah. Now Sarah was brilliant at marketing and vital to the company’s success. But she was not good at managing people and lost around half her staff every year as they moved to other jobs.

They came to us to help them solve the problem. They wanted to keep Sarah but needed to find a way to motivate and keep their people. The solution was, of course, simple. Sarah’s role got changed to one of Marketing Expert, where she spent all her time doing marketing stuff. We found the person in the team who was great with people and trained them to be the new manager. (Of course, if it had been at Happy, we’d have had the staff choose who it should be.)

The great thing about this solution was that it was win/win. Everybody gained. The happiest person of all was Sarah who lost the bits of the job that were stressing her out and got to spend all her time doing what she was great at.

Working with groups of managers, I’ve found many who absolutely love managing people. Its what motivates them, what gets them up in the morning and what they will remember long after they leave this job. But many others hate it. However much training they receive, they still aren’t great at it and they know it. It stresses them out and they would love it if they could have their seniority without having to manage people.

This is one of the most important steps to making your workplace happier.

Make sure your managers are selected for how good they are at managing people and you will transform the lives of many of your staff. And that means they will stay and be motivated to do a great job. It is kind of common sense.


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Henry Stewart, Founder and Chief Happiness Officer

Henry is founder and Chief Happiness Officer of Happy Ltd. Following a fairly disastrous job early on in his career, Henry was determined to discover what enabled a productive and happy workplace. In 1987 Henry set up what was originally called Happy Computers. Inspired by Ricardo Semler’s book Maverick, he built a company with a reputation for some of the best customer service in the country and one of the UK’s best places to work, winning multiple awards for its culture and philosophy. His book, the Happy Manifesto, was published by in 2013.

Outside of work he is a father of three, Chair of Governors at his local comprehensive in Hackney and a keen cyclist.

You can find Henry on LinkedIn and follow @happyhenry on Twitter.

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