Hiring happy people

A Pret creationAlex over at PositiveSharing.com always has great tips and info on being happy at work, but this article on hiring happy people at the British based company Pret A Manger particularly caught my attention.

Alex pulled just the right quote from this article from The Insider blog:

“You can’t hire someone who can make sandwiches and teach them to be happy,” says Jay, “So we hire happy people and teach them to make sandwiches”

This may seem like an oversimplification, but it’s true! I’ve always felt when hiring that you are much better interviewing the person first, then worry about their skills. I’ve seen folks with more experience than I come in to a job and have a negative impact on those around them and I’ve seen folks with practically no experience come in and do wonderfully.

The full interview with Pret’s Head of Communication Jay Chapman has some fantastic content and is well worth the read. sandwich

Competitive team building

Alex Kjerulf, the Chief Happiness Officer has a (typically excellent) article pointing out the top 5 reasons why most team building events are a waste of time.

Companies today want their employees to cooperate more, to work well in teams, to share knowledge and to work to achieve success together. That is why it makes absolutely no sense to send them on trainings that are mainly competitive in nature. Even when these events let people work together in smaller teams, competing against other teams, the focus still ends up being on competition, not cooperation.

There’s a simple reason why these events are almost always competitive: Competition = instant passion. Setting up a competition activates a primal urge in many people to win at all costs, making them very focused and active – which looks great to the organizers.

But there’s a huge downside to this – which means that not only are many team building events a huge waste of time, they can be actively harmful to teams.

Alex goes on to point out the top 5 problems with competitive team building events. For a less competitive approach to team building I encourage you to consider the following:

First, try to take the pressure out of it for all the reasons Alex mentions in his article.

Second, try to keep it loosely structured. For example, a trip to a baseball game is great because it gives everyone a common experience but also leaves plenty of time to chat and get to know each other.

Third, involve everyone! You’re not going to get everyone all the time but it’s important to do things that everyone is able to do. It’s fine to encourage people to go slightly out of their comfort zone, but don’t plan an event that you know certain people won’t go to.

Fourth, have at least some of your team building/social events during work hours. Lunches can be a great opportunity for this. The important thing is to involve the people who may not make it to after work events.

You can’t force people to have fun, but you can certainly give them the opportunity. Honestly the best team building experiences I can remember have been practical jokes – always in the best of humor of course. It may seem unlikely, but you’d be surprised how many people want to help when you say you’re going to fill the CEO’s office with balloons!

team building, office, work, leadership

Communicating about challenges

Rob Walling over at Software by Rob has an interesting article contrasting two developers: one who quietly analyzes a problem and comes up with a solution, the other who talks about the problems they may have, builds it and then talks about all the problems they did have.

As Rob notes in an update it’s not quite as black-and-white as he paints it but the article offers a terse analysis of two communication styles that made me actively think about what and why I communicate.


Nine things developers want more than money

Software by Rob has compiled a fantastic list of Nine Things Developers Want More Than Money and from my experience he’s hit the nail on the head!

Many of the developers I know have been programming since they were in junior high. Whether it was building text-based games on an Apple IIe or creating a high school football roster app in Visual Basic, it’s something they did for the challenge, for the love of learning new things and, oh yes, for the chicks. Ladies love a man who can speak BASIC to his Apple.

College graduates face a sad reality when they leave the protective womb of a university and have to get their first real job. Many of my friends found jobs paying around $25k out of school, and were amazed that the starting engineering and computer science salaries were nearly double that. But the majority of the engineers in my class didn’t become engineers for the money; we did it because it touched on a deep inner yearning to tinker and impress their friends. And did I mention the chicks?

Money is a motivating factor for most of us, but assuming comparable pay, what is it that makes some companies attract and retain developers while others churn through them like toilet paper?

Now, don’t get me wrong, you need to compensate your people appropriately as well, but ask your developers if they have any side projects and you’ll probably find that the best ones have some exciting side projects going on that they’re doing to learn something new, give back to the community or just to help someone out. This is the list of how you can tap into that energy at the office and get the most out of your developers.

via digg

management, project management, programming, information technology

What’s in your cubicle

Cube at GoogleI can’t believe that in the midst of finishing up at one job, starting another and trying to bang out a couple chapters in my book I almost missed this awesome post from positivesharing.com.

Alexander has compiled a list of 10 seeeeeriously cool workplaces including Pixar, Google, Redbull and many more.

It’s astounding how little attention most employers pay to the environment their employees work in. A good environment will do wonders for morale, retention, creativity, collaboration and countless other facets of your business.

My workspace is still emerging but the great part is I now work from home so I have full control.

office, cubicle, work environment