On the way to a degree in organizational management, I was required to take a class with the forbidding title, “Praxis of Organizational Growth and Health.” There I learned something I have never forgotten. After years of studying large organizations, researchers found the secret ingredient to whether an employee is happy in a job or not.
Up to that time, I thought what I put into a job was what made me happy. If I was responsible, dependable, dedicated and knew my stuff; I could and should be content. If I was not content, I needed to turn up the energy and give more of myself.
I have worked some pretty joyless jobs – and worked them well. I came to think if you had done your best and continued to be unhappy in a job, it was not what you were called to do. It was incumbent you find your ambience and devote yourself to that.
Enter the three “Cs” concept of team building (Courageous Leadership, Hybels, 2002) from my leadership classes:
There again, I tended to dismiss Chemistry. It seemed frivolous. Character? Absolutely. Honesty is paramount. Competence? You bet. Who has not known the unrelenting stress of working with incompetents? But Chemistry? I was frugal in my expectations.
At the moment, I am privileged to work a fabulous job which I love immensely. The location is spectacular. The duties fit me like a glove. But it is the people that make it magical. As in any group, there are a smattering of incompetents, and one or two with whom I do not click. But oh, how easily those were forgotten in the glow of working side by side with a young seasonal whose across the board kindness to all was unflagging. She could dispatch duties with efficiency and artistry. Do not discount the pleasure of trading seldom used vocabulary with a venerable chief; nor underestimate friendship with a soft-spoken and diplomatic officemate; or a visionary and analytical director.
In my work environment; coming and going, transferring and furloughing is inevitable; good-byes and leave taking frequent; praise and commendation essential.
Last Friday went something like this
Coworker: Bye Cherry, it’s been real.
Me: Now? You’re not staying until close?
Co: have to finish some errands. I think you are awesome.
Me: You know I feel the same about you.
Coworker: (retreats down the hall with huge sniff).
Me: Go now, then! I don’t have any Kleenex!
Laughter filled the lengthening distance between us.
“Thanks for the laughter,” made an appearance on the note taped to my desk.
Perhaps laughter is chemistry?
Reader’s Digest was right about laughter being the best medicine.
My best co-workers are the breed C.S. Lewis was speaking of when he said merriment of the merriest kind “…exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously…(The Weight of Glory).”
I’ve looked at [work] from both sides now – drudgery and joy. It is the people who make the difference. And I fervently prefer an environment with character, competency and chemistry.