MATCHFiT and Expat Living Talk About Happiness In the Workplace
Written by Lilian Latto, Managing Director MATCHFiT Consults | ICF Certified PCC Executive Leadership, Organisational and Career Coach
Last week we shared a snippet on Finding the Right Career or New Job in Singapore. Expat Living asked Lillian Latto three questions on the topic of happiness in the workplace and why clients engage MATCHFiT. Here’s the full conversation.
Why is it so important to be happy in your work? It just is. I mean, why would anyone want it any other way. I’ve never heard anyone say ‘you know, I just love a toxic workplace, don’t’ you’? Not all work environments are super cool, funky, happy places, but it is achievable.
People’s happiness at work is partly dependent on company culture. We know this through the clients we serve, our industry knowledge and experience tells us that workplace happiness is co-dependent on organisation health. I can’t express enough how important it is. It’s the heart of the matter.
Another dependency is company values and beliefs and how they correlate to an individual’s value and belief system. To give happiness a chance, they need to be aligned because wherever you are, you’re still going to be you. The same you at home, in the pub with your friends, at your kid’s school or in the boardroom, it’s only ever going to be you.
Happiness is also affected by external expectations and perceptions, which in itself can manifest into a type/style of behaviour that’s not truly who you are but an interpretation of expectations. This pseudotype behaviour is commonplace for many. It’s human nature to want to fit in, belong, connect, be a part of the team, a tribe, a purpose. The thing is, if alignment doesn’t exist in the first place, the adopted behaviours aren’t sustainable long-term. It’s not authentic, it’s not the real you, and eventually, you’ll drop the ‘act’ because at some point, consciously or unconsciously, the authentic you makes an entrance. Leaving nothing but your true feelings and behaviours laid bare, then what? You can’t hide from yourself or anyone else, you’re at work!!
Once a person reveals their true self, what tends to follow is a sense of relief but also decreased levels of happiness take place. There could be many positive reasons for the ‘act’ in the first place. Usually borne out of observations and learnt behaviours from co-workers and expectations driven my management or elsewhere. If you connect the dots, the unhappy state of mind makes total sense, given the situation. For some, an internal fight is taking place, it can be a real battle when negativity is the opponent.
Unhappiness is a brute, and once it gets a hold of you, it’s hard to shake off. It can engulf your very being as it walks with you and interferes with everything you do and say. It affects your mindset, self-esteem, body language, confidence, and so much more. Ultimately it affects your relationships and decision making, which could lead to underachievement oppose to excelling, superseding your own goals, ambitions and company targets.
When you’re in this environment, it’s not easy to see or recognise the real you despite the warning signs you identify in yourself and ignore, or what family and friends may say. People continue to work in toxic environments for all sorts of strong reasons and motivators. Such as supporting a family, fear of failure, hanging in for the next promotion, or keeping a family tradition alive, i.e. ‘I come from a long line of lawyers. Deep down, they want to be a doctor or a florist or an architect, for example, it’s personal. I feel it’s essential once a person or company recognises the behaviour and the emotion attached to it, it’s time to take action — time for intervention, time for a change.
We give the best part of our waking hours to work. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to be happy while we’re doing whatever we do. I believe happiness should feature in employee contracts – ‘We provide employees with happiness for the hours spent working in our company’. Who wouldn’t be up for that??! I know some may think it’s a naive view, conversely many would disagree, because they’ve made the transition and receive more joy because of it. Surely we deserve to be happy as the alternative isn’t great.
Our work exposes us to individuals and companies experiencing misalignment where what once made them happy is no longer the case. People and companies change and evolve, that’s life. Working in an environment that doesn’t support wellbeing impacts all elements of life and relationships at work and home. The two are interdependent. Happiness has a direct correlation to one’s performance in every aspect of life. We will never escape targets and KPI’s, they even extend into our roles at home, as there’s an expectation there too.
Company health plays a huge part in one’s happiness at work. To achieve happiness at work, core value and beliefs from the top-down, bottom-up, need to demonstrated to promote levels of happiness for all. When everyone’s in sync, this is when what’s good for the goose is good for the gander really applies. However, ultimately, individuals have a level of accountability for their happiness. We cant be solely dependent on others.
Happiness at work is something we should all feel, experience, strive to achieve and quite frankly deserve. Humility is key.
How does it make you (and the MATCHFiT team ) feel when you help your clients realise their ambitions? It’s a humbling experience being a part of the journey, it’s always different, never the same from one client to another. The level of trust given makes us more determined to deliver through the modalities we provide to bring about the desired change.
Achieving our clients’ objectives is amazing, so much is shared and experienced. The learning that comes from the relationship is a two-way thing — celebrating each milestone, realisation, breakthrough and achievement along the way. Exploring challenges and overcoming hurdles, blockers both internal and external through action-based co-created solutions to pave the way toward the next chapter in their career or business with accountability for change.
A great sense of satisfaction for both parties, plus a whole host of emotions depending on the situation, but joy is always one of them and knowing growth has taken place. In a nutshell, happy because they’re delighted with the outcome.
Why is it that clients engage in MATCHFiT services?
We do what it says on the tin. We work with you in a true partnership. We understand Singapore and the broader Asia market. We’ve been around the block a few times and lived in Singapore for many years. We’re experienced, tried and tested. We have the know-how to develop the tools required to action ambitions. We show up and what you see is what you get. I guess that appeals because we are relatable. We deliver so they can.
We don’t profess to be experts in our clients’ life, business, or careers, but we are in what we do, and that allows us to get into the guts of the situation quickly. They’re able to share the good, the bad and the ugly, whatever it is, it’s ok. Being vulnerable and honest is hard, but it’s the key to our partnership and gaining trust. Regardless of whom we speak with whether it’s a CEO, their employees or the many individuals who engage our services, vulnerability and honesty is vital.
That’s why we’re incredibly client-centric, we’re open and non-judgmental, mindful and respectful of their ‘as is’ situation and turn up without filters to gain further clarity to see what’s ahead. I believe that’s part of the attraction, coupled with transparency and confidentiality. Treating each client as we find them plus we’re motivated and drive results. We deliver so they can.
Based on feedback, knowing our clients value our areas of expertise and know-how as we do theirs, allows connecting and building relationships more natural. It’s at the centre of everything we do, without it, where’s the joy? To nurture and develop our partnerships, we listen and keep on listening. By doing so, we hear and see the unspoken word, i.e. verbal and non-verbal communication, and that can make all the difference.
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