It’s not about individual happiness

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Army Briefing

Gen. Sir Nick Houghton, the new Chief of Defence Staff, speaking with BBC’s Caroline Wyatt, said an interesting thing that all managers should ponder on. He talked about morale: it’s not about individual happiness

He was questioned about the morale of the British armed forces in light of the pressures upon them as a result of reduced regular numbers, increasing reservist numbers and reduced budgets. He was commenting about how he looks at morale. He commented:

“It’s not about individual happiness. I couldn’t say that everyone in the British Army is happy on a given day. But it’s about the ability to… (perform)… in times of pressure. And if anything has demonstrated the resilience of the morale of the British armed forces, it’s the last couple of years and the fact that they still continue to perform and are one of our nation’s unique selling points.”

Gen. Houghton is quite right. Happiness depends on many things. Events in employees’ private lives impact their day-to-day happiness at work. And minute-by-minute customer, peer and manager interactions and minute-by-minute successes and difficulties have a bearing too. But if the employee is doing a job they like and if they have the right skills and knowledge to do that job well and have positive attitudes and beliefs towards the firm, then they will have the resilience to perform.

Your staff are one of your unique selling points. You don’t have to make sure they’re always happy. Just make sure they have the jobs, skills, knowledge, attitudes and beliefs needed to perform.

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