Dr. Charles Kerns of Pepperdine University was kind enough to give me a short interview that I think will help all of us work a little happier. He is an associate professor of Applied Behavioral Science, so if he agrees with me you know I'm on to something with this work happiness thing.
As we all know, it's better to work with someone that is truly happy. I've worked with plenty of co-workers who are happy for the first month and then their true personality sets in and I'm stuck with a dud that just wants to coast. So I asked Charles about separating the fakers from the truly happy.
1. How do you think HR managers can separate truly happy and potentially productive interviewees from fakers?
Actually an operating manager's challenge is to interact with their people in ways that promote performance and positivity(happiness). In support of this effort HR managers can help by designing performance based interviews that reliably assist in identifying individuals whose profile match the performance profile for a specific position.
Selecting individuals against a specific profile can increase the opportunities for boosting the number of happy high performers in the workplace. Selection interview questions which tap a candidates ability to set goals, be grateful, show resilience and focus on their strengths will help identify individuals who may be happier than others in the workplace. Other questions and activities within the selection interview need to identify candidates who have the ability to take key actions which correlate with success in the position that is under recruitment.
The more data that I gather about work happiness, the more I believe that companies need to start this process from the ground up. It's harder to turn around the titanic than some little wave runner. I asked Charles how smaller companies can get on board the happiness train now before it's too late.
2. When implementing a happiness-enhancing intervention, what steps do you think would work best for small companies (under 50)?
Small businesses can potentially have a more direct impact on their people's happiness and performance than larger organizations. Smaller organizations have fewer levels to communicate through and have leader/owners who are more likely closer to the daily operations.
Leaders in small organizations can promote performance and happiness by offering a clear and motivating direction. People want to know that their work serves a worthwhile purpose. Leaders can help in advancing this by documenting and effectively communicating where things are going and how people fit into this direction.
Also, along the way leaders need to help their people focus on those things that their people can influence and that are important to achieving success. Focusing tools that increase both performance and happiness include setting stretching yet realistic goals, providing effective feedback, practicing forgiveness and optimism and finding the intersection between their people's strengths and situations that will challenge them...
If you want to read more about work happiness from Dr. Kerns check out the original blog article Bring Happiness to Work that spurred these interview questions.
You can also check out his three other articles:
Thanks Dr. Charles Kerns for being so accommodating to my questions and hopefully we can work with each other again in the near future.