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Happiness at Work

happiness1Maximising Your Psychological Capital for Success – By Jessica Pryce-Jones

I was attracted to this book as the title had components that all relate to my own current research into when you are your best in work: Happiness, psychological capital and success are all factors that I have come across and seeing them all in one book title was intriguing.

What kept me reading the book was the natural style and non-academic approach to sharing the research that the book is based upon.  So if you’re looking for a meaty read, based on research but with a refreshingly natural style, this could be for you.

Jessica Pryce-Jones has developed a model of achieving potential or happiness and she calls it the 5 Cs: Contribution, Conviction, Culture, Commitment and Confidence.  Its initial simplicity is perhaps misleading – all those factors are so interlinked.  As the chapters unfold she shares real stories from the research that illustrate the importance of each of these factors.

What is most compelling about her research is that she provides some tangible implications of developing happiness at work: Greater success, greater energy, greater commitment (all with a massive list of quotable research references supplied at the back of the book).  Each chapter has clear take-aways – I’ve summarised these to give you a flavour:

Chapter 1  sets outs the business case for happiness at work, highlighting that financial value is too limited a measure of success. She suggests that it is individuals’ personal resources and the relationships within teams (psychological and social capital) that work together to feed financial capital.

Chapter 2  takes you through the research journey and number crunching to get to her 5Cs model.  She also highlights that pride, trust and recognition underpin the model and suggests that achieving potential is about developing these factors and maximising the 5Cs.

Chapter 3  focuses on Contribution (one of the 5Cs and she suggests is the most important component of happiness at work).  Here she focuses on what she terms contribution ‘from the inside-out’.  She highlights things you may have already come across like breaking down goals into practical steps.  One memorable learning point is to create your own goals that suit your personal needs.

Chapter 4  takes a slightly different perspective on Contribution – from the Outside-In.  Here she highlights how experiences such as getting feedback can really impact on how you feel about yourself.  Feeling genuinely listened to would appear to be the most important factor here and she gives some helpful hints on developing trust and improving relationships.

Chapter 5  is focused on Conviction – being motivated, having a purpose and direction.  She picks up on factors like ensuring efficiency in our work and developing coping mechanisms so when faced with change we can continue to operate energetically.  She highlights that if we see that our work has a positive impact we are most likely to be able to show conviction in what we do.

Chapter 6  considers the role of Culture in maximising our potential.   She doesn’t take a formal view of culture, highlighting it as fluid.  But what she suggests is that we pay attention to the language that we use, the social support that we have and the control over our daily activities.

Chapter 7  looks at the role of Commitment in that we need to feel that we are doing something worthwhile, interested in our job and believing in the organisation.   She introduces the notion of having hope which is not so much the fluffy feeling but more about having both will power and a sense of how we can get to our goals (way power).   Positive self-talk, focusing on success and positive language are all associated with greater commitment and hope.

Chapter 8  considers the final of the 5Cs, Confidence.   She recommends: using mind tools (like self-talk, imagery) to build self-belief; accepting new challenges; and learning from success all go towards building confidence.

Chapter 9  sweeps up Pride, Trust and Recognition as underpinning the 5Cs – challenging you to build pride in your organisation with some reflection questions; build trust in colleagues, giving you 5 rules to do this; and developing more recognition for achievements through various techniques.

Chapter 10  is simply titled Achieving Your Potential and as you would imagine essentially says attend to all the 5C and you are on your way to doing that.   One interesting takeaway from this chapter that is not always highlighted in other books is that whilst it is vital to work with our strengths we must also not lose sight of weaknesses so we can work on refining our skills.

All of these factors are not earth shatteringly new but the way that she groups them together helps you to think about the practical implications for how we approach our work and how we structure it.   Mixing up happiness and potential is a little bit confusing but maybe that is what this book does – recognises that both are so interlinked they might well be the same thing.  So if I want to be happy in my work I need to maximise my potential…. That is one big challenge!