“This is the call I didn’t know I needed,” my client burst out with a huge smile on her face.
Janie was part of a group I coach inside a large animal health company that is working to help its people not only gain skills, but also work better together to change the culture. And there has been, shall we say, a bad actor derailing projects and deflecting responsibility.
Some time later, the bloop bloop bloop of Voxer sounded on my phone. The message was from Janie. Her typical measured tone was bubbly, and I could hear the exclamation points!
“Jenn, this works! I did what we talked about on our call in the meeting.”
She went on to describe her confidence in communicating and the resulting progress from the bad actor.
“And now, it’s so much easier. I just feel lighter!”
I let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding and started laughing. The joy of work is being restored. This is what I’m working for! And don’t you want that too? The feeling of lightness and ease in your work?
I’m afraid you might be living with some version of the opposite of that feeling. I definitely know that pain.
Over a decade ago, I landed my dream job. And while I’m prone to excitement, I’m not prone to hyperbole. For three years, I couldn’t believe how great my work was. And then a new leader came to run the organization.
“This is how we’re going to work…” (Do you cringe just a bit at that sentence?)
Sitting around a group of tables smooshed together with my team, the new leader delivered this edict. My eyes blinked up and down, and my hands smoothed non-existent wrinkles on my dress. I had a tingle in my chest that usually meant something wasn’t right.
What I didn’t know, but intuitively felt, was this would change everything about how our work life was going to run. A beautiful, healthy culture of collaboration and innovation dissolved into silos, triangulated communication, and eventually toxicity.
And it wasn’t a whiplash of change. We slowly waned — like going for a walk in the fading twilight, and you suddenly notice it’s dark.
Instead of my dream job, I woke up in workplace trauma. Even labeling it like that, I feel the fear of being “dramatic.” Yet, I knew work had been joyful. We collaborated with intention. We celebrated growth and trying. We stood on the values of our organization and put them into practice. Excitement and momentum characterized our community.
I can fix this. Just work harder, right? I have to just keep trying, then it will be better. I can’t rock the boat. I’m just gonna keep doing my work. That will solve it.
Most of us think that, don’t we? But in my workplace and in yours, more work doesn’t work.
More work doesn’t create change. More isn’t sustainable. More doesn’t heal workplace trauma. You need something different. Since that toxic workplace experience, I’ve helped thousands of people and organizations create something different.
I believe you need Joyosity™.
Joyosity is the foundation of what we all want at work — positive culture even with all the complex people.
You get it. People are complex. Just think about the you before coffee or hangry — I mean, I transform like a gremlin around 4:30 without a snack. Now imagine the you when you’re doing your favorite tasks with your favorite people.
So what happens when you’re in flow and your teammate is in pre-coffee, frustrated with other teammate mode, and you’re supposed to work together on a client kickoff call? See. Complex.
We’re each yarn that becomes snarled and tangled because of the complexities of being imperfect people working together in an imperfect world.
Joyosity turns the ever-restricting tangle into a flexible tapestry of positive culture.
But Jenn, shouldn’t I just be grateful to have a job? Positive culture is just an extra perk if you’re lucky.
Let me step onto my soapbox:
Positive culture is the most effective business strategy there is. Far from extra, Harvard University calls it a business imperative. Joyosity makes it possible.
Joyosity creates the culture WITH the complex people, not in spite of them. Because I gotta remind you: you and I are a part of the complexity!
Joyosity is built on the three Es: Explore. Engage. Experience.
I like to picture them as bubbles that merge, creating almost a disco ball effect of refracting light. Turning a simple shape into an iridescent wonder of beauty and joy. And isn’t that what feels like when genuine synergy happens in a group? You feel the zing of energy in the room because working together created something amazing.
Here’s a tiny colored pencil sketch of the three Es. Because we’re gonna keep coming back to them:
Exploration begins with people because people are the center of work. Not the market, the industry, or the economy. People. The best leaders create positive culture by exploring themselves first. Self-awareness and personality, metacognition (which is just thinking about your thinking) and mindset, and values. From this place, leaders can explore the people they work with so you can cultivate a positive culture that creates profitable, high-performing teams.
You use people skills to interact with other people. This is how you communicate, make decisions, and practice emotional intelligence. These aren’t just gifted from on high! You can develop these skills, just like you learned to write, code, teach, design, or market. Engaging with people is how we do any work! Employee engagement isn’t just a buzzword. It’s the work.
The structure you develop is the framework of experience. The practices and actions you implement and the processes and systems you develop shape the very experience of your organization. For your employees AND clients, customers, and contractors. What you’re probably missing is play. Yep, PLAY. Alan Watts wrote, “This is the secret to life…instead of calling it work, realize it’s play.” A positive culture is impossible to achieve without at least some play shaping the experience.
If you’ve encountered the controlling leader with unrealistic expectations or the badly behaved coworker who’s allowed to belittle and bully, you’ve had a taste of toxicity. But if you’re like me or many folks in my DMs, you’ve probably experienced far worse.
And it doesn’t have to be that way. Imagine with me for just a moment… what would it feel like to be excited on Sunday night while brushing your teeth, looking forward to work? Paint a picture of a meeting that is happy, creative, and effective. Consider what it would feel like to have confidence in your leadership skills to make that happen.
So now what? How do you begin to bring Joyosity to your desk, the field, or the conference room?
That’s what we’re here to do. So if you’ve been around a minute, you’ll notice the new orange Jolt of Joyosity banner. That’s what you’ll get here every Monday morning. A doable step or two or five to help you bring the bubbles of the three Es to your workplace.
I wouldn’t be me without giving you at least one for today. Here’s where you’re gonna start:
Self-leadership. You are the CEO of your own life. Start by exploring your personality, its gifts, and its challenges. I highly recommend the Enneagram. If you’re new to the Enneagram or want a refresher, head over here for this five-minute video and ebook to begin the Joyosity journey of creating positive culture with the complex person you’re closest to (ahem, that would be you!).
Ok, did you click the link? Great. Now for the next new item for you:
Joyosity Live! Yes, I have a live show every Monday at 1pm ET on LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube. I interview experts and leaders and get you in the mix too. Because you are the best part of Joyosity Live. A community of leaders exploring the deep roots of real joy at work. So join in the comments to add your thoughts and questions and meet other leaders on the journey.
Listen, the guest line-up is INCREDIBLE: Jakob Knutzen, CEO of Butter; Fuad Amed, actor and fellow TEDx speaker; Dimple Dhabalia, former Senior Advisor at Homeland Security for Citizenship and Immigration, author, and fellow Ted Lasso lover; and so many more. So just right now, go mark your calendars for 1pm ET on Mondays. Repeat event! It’s always on my LinkedIn profile, so just pop that in the calendar too.
And just like they say on TV, but wait! There’s more…
Joyosity podcast!!! So many of you have asked if I have a podcast, when can I create a podcast, and why don’t you have a podcast? Ok, I’m ready for the podcast party! Thursday, Sept. 21 the Joyosity podcast lands on all your favorite podcast platforms. Apple, Spotify, Google Play, and more.
On Sept. 21, some of our favorite past interviews from my live show will welcome you to the pod! Kindra Hall, Marley Majcher, Leo Chan, Gary Ware, and Diana Wei Fang as well as a few solo episodes that are like mini-workshops to help you understand and apply the three Es as you cultivate Joyosity.
I promise you, change is possible. It’s happening for Janie and her bad actor. It’s happened for countless other clients and organizations. We can reimagine workplace culture.
More than reimagine. We can create places where work is a joy, people are whole, and organizations flourish. Joyosity is the way.
Are you ready to join me?