You shouldn’t be ashamed if you want those with whom you work to be happy. Caring about the experience of others is a noble human trait. Difficulty begins, of course, when the happiness of others becomes weighted criteria in our decision-making process.
The act of making someone’s happiness bigger and more important than the business can present itself in subtle ways:
- I’ll delay the decision until we get to consensus, until we all agree. (Because people are happier when they agree with the plan forward.)
- We can’t tell them the entire truth because this news will anger them.
- All these people must be invited to the meeting, otherwise we’ll never hear the end of their complaining.
We can, however, care about others without prioritizing their happiness. The two can be independent from one another. In fact, if the business is to succeed, they often need to be. It sounds like this:
- I care so much about our collective security and success as employees, I’m going to make a decision that isn’t consistent with your perspective on the direction we should go.
- It’s critical they have full information on this, even if the news isn’t good, so that they have every opportunity to do well for themselves and those in their charge.
- We’re going to shorten the invite list to this meeting, so we can be more efficient in our decision making and set others up for success quicker.
Your team may not be happy. But that doesn’t matter. The state of happiness is rarely consistent with the experience of truly growing and developing as a person, leader and team member. Being stretched beyond those dynamics that make us comfortable is essential to ultimately succeeding.
In short: We’re not here for our emotional comfort (psychological safety is another matter). We’re here to actualize our potential – for our customers, and even more importantly, for ourselves.