Remove Barriers to Happiness at Work

A good friend is currently tied up in knots about her workplace culture. The company owner rarely shows up to provide guidance, yet resists giving others the power to put rules and policies into place. So the workplace is chaotic, morale is falling, and my friend is debating whether she will continue to work at a company where she feels like she cares more than the owner does.

Sound familiar? We all know what the Survey Says: while money is an important factor, the MAIN motivators that keep people engaged relate to the opportunity to learn, grow, and do their best work. When working conditions get in the way of our ability to contribute, we get frustrated. My friend claims she could get twice as much done if she could get everyone following a similar process, and she’s not asking for more money to do that – she just wants her boss to ELIMINATE the hassles.

Fact is, the owner of her company could continue to be absentee if he’d show up just long enough to declare an end to some confusing processes. And that’s what most people want from their boss: “Tell me what to do, give me the resources I need, and then get out of my way!”

Consider taking some time at your next team meeting to ask, “What’s getting in the way of you doing your best work?” Take notes. Ask the team to prioritize. You won’t be able to address all the barriers, but each one you eliminate will reduce frustration and allow people to use more of their capacity to make progress versus fix problems.

Yes, I’m talking to YOU

By the way… you don’t have to be the one in charge to be a leader in this regard. Sometimes the Boss is simply unaware. So please don’t assume that s/he knows of your misery and is ignoring it.Speak up. Declare that there is an Elephant in the Room, and then request help. Often that’s all it takes to get a conversation going that results in a new process, better access to resources, or clarified expectations.

And once frustration goes down, happiness has a better chance of showing up.

Remember: Leadership is not about a title. Anyone can be a leader who helps to remove barriers that prevent people from being and doing their best.



Jim Smith, PCC, is The Executive Happiness Coach®. He is an international speaker, executive and life coach, and author. He provides his clients with inspiration and practical tools to live a happier life and build more positive work cultures. He is the author of Happiness At The Speed of Life: 13 Powerful Strategies for Finding Happiness at Home and On The Job, and has touched the lives of over 10,000 people worldwide through his work on Positive Emotion and Leadership. You can connect with Jim at