3 Tips to Make the Team Happy

Simon Brown

A guide to promoting positive feelings in the team, and planning for the year ahead...

Earlier in my career when I was taking up my first Shared Services Director role, I sought advice from a fast-tracking Strategic HR Director on how to motivate and engage my new shared services team. She was aged about 28, but clearly on a high trajectory to the top and I was expecting something profound from her, based on the latest psychological model or state of the art "total rewards" incentive scheme.

Instead, her advice was simple: "Make them happy, Simon, Take them out for meals and buy them drinks!"

I followed her advice, in the same way I followed her meteoric rise to SVP and Head of HR for the company I worked for at the time. I ran several "Away Days" for the team, meals out at fun restaurants, shopping in Brighton, visits to stately homes and famous old buildings, theatre trips, and drinks in the happy hour cocktail lounges… it got people talking, helped the team to be more open with each other, seeing ourselves in an informal setting beyond our serious work persona.

Apart from the happy hour events and the days out, I have discovered a few other points which can help:

  • Be transparent and honest
  • Encourage an environment of trust
  • Accentuate the positive
  • Be open about mistakes made –and learn from them.

So, given that it is a new year, I am sharing a few of my humble learnings, which I hope will inspire motivation within your team:

1. Motivation is key

In the same way an energised and effective shared services team is key as an engine room producing transactional excellence in your HR, Finance or IT function.

2. Sustain motivation

The most important ingredients for creating and sustaining motivation in your shared services team members include:

  • challenge and stretch in the role
  • being respected for work done
  • winning /achieving successful outcomes
  • having deadlines set and seeing results
  • variety of work tasks and assignments
  • being empowered to make decisions
  • a real opportunity for personal and career development, actions not words
  • Reward –and not just money – being valued!
  • Learning, and having fun /enjoyment.

Conversely, I have discovered that the biggest de-motivators for Shared Services teams include:

  • internal politics within the function

  • lack of recognition
  • work overload
  • lack of clear responsibilities
  • belittling of contribution
  • people on the team not pulling their weight –and getting away with it!
  • criticism from above
  • manager changing mind
  • lack of respect for boss – boss quality is really important to people.

So, if leaders of shared services teams really want to make good music, you’ll make all the difference by actively playing the role of orchestra conductor, leader of the band, and coach and motivator.

3. Keep face-to-face contact with your people

Regular 1-to-1s and team meetings as a routine engender an environment where to give and receive feedback is the norm, (as Kurt Vonnegut said: "Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions!" )

These regular sessions, reaching beyond discussions about today’s urgent work task challenges, help you to get to know your people as whole people beyond the work persona. You can involve them in the decision-making process, demonstrate your interest in them, and make them feel needed and critically important to the business


If you want to discuss this article or give feedback, please "comment" below, or email me at simon@simonbrownassociates.com