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Michelle Hoskin: How happy is your business?

The happiest firms are the most successful. Follow these four tips to get yours there

Great business? Check. Nice office? Check. Money in the bank? Check. Great clients? Great team? No major dramas (if you exclude trying to get professional indemnity cover)? Check, check, check.

What on earth could go wrong? Well, actually, quite a bit. Because, while you may have proudly ticked off all the items on the list above, you need to ask yourself this: do you have a happy business?

We always think of happiness as a people thing, but the most successful businesses out there are happy businesses.

I am not just talking about the team; I am talking about the overall vibe. When you are there, it makes you feel good.

Is that culture or is it just the fact they serve great coffee and have swanky, adjustable-height desks? Who knows – but you know when it is there and you certainly know when it is not.

I do not have the space to analyse the inside leg measurements of happiness in this article, but what I can do is give you the top four things you need to do to create a happy business:

1. Love it
You love it, you hire a team who love it and you take on clients who love it. But what is “it”? It is your business, it is their jobs, it is what they do, how they do it and who they do it for.

Working in this profession is like a calling. You can’t do half measures; you have to be all in. In fact, you have to be so far in you couldn’t imagine doing anything else. The result? When you all love it, the business will ooze happiness. And that is a great place to be.

2. Never compromise
Ever. If something is not right, try to fix it. If something is not fixable, remove it. It may seem harsh and will be painful, and at times a lengthy process, but I promise it will be worth it.

If you make too many allowances and overcompensate for people and things that are not working, it brings a detrimental level of unhappiness to the team and all those who come into contact with it.

3. Be honest
People often say I have a rose-tinted view of our sector (like that is a bad thing).

Maybe I do but I have no intention of changing any time soon. Why? Because, while I may see our profession in a unique way, I am honest – I say what I see.

If I see something wrong, I will speak out; if I think something could be done better, I make the suggestion; if I think standards are slipping, I’ll raise them; and if I don’t like how people are being treated, I will stand my ground.

This is something that we could do with much more of in our profession.

As a business leader, I am 100 per cent open and honest with my team.

We have no secrets; we know our troubles and we celebrate our successes.

We all know the numbers – the incoming and the outgoing. And that is not all.

We have internally published our personal salaries and earnings too. And why wouldn’t we, if one of our company values is honesty?

When you have no secrets, people feel a sense of belonging and inclusion. This is a feeling we all crave, and which ultimately leads to greater overall company happiness.

4. Understand your people
I do not mean how many sugars they take in their tea. I mean really understand them.

Understand what makes them tick, why they work, what they dream of and who they love.

As professional planners, we are more than happy to spend the time understanding our clients at this level but feel it is inappropriate to understand our teams in the same way. What is that about?

When people feel understood, they feel valued, they feel cared for and, guess what, they feel happy.

Happiness does not just happen; you need to really work at it. A happy team makes happy clients who make a happy business.

It doesn’t work the other way around.

Michelle Hoskin is founder and director of Standards International

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