From the CEO: Creating a joyful workplace

AME | August 26, 2022

Only two months to go until we pack our bags and embrace disruption at the AME Dallas 2022 International Conference. This will be my first in-person conference since I came on board in this role in 2020. Amid my excitement to connect with so many talented lean practitioners, including our outstanding keynote speakers, I am thinking back to some of the incredible thought leaders who have spoken at past AME conferences.

In 2019, we had the honor of hearing from Richard Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovations. Sheridan is the author of award-winning books Joy, Inc. and Chief Joy Officer. As the titles suggest, his initiative has been to foster a culture of joy in the workplace.

The idea of a joyful workplace may sound abstract, ambitious or even a little radical. After all, work frequently has its challenging moments. Joy is not a word often used. Why would we even suggest this? And if this is so important, what then does it take to cultivate an environment of joy? How do we continue an abundance of joy when delivering unwelcome or unpopular news, addressing challenges or dealing with things that we don’t necessarily like?

For starters, Sheridan differentiates between being “joyful” and being “happy." Employees can be happy or unhappy with certain aspects of their work and even discouraged when plans derail. No one is happy all the time. Joy, however, can support employees through tumultuous times. If we commit to cultivating a foundation of joy in our companies, then the inevitable bumps we hit on the road feel less intimidating.

How do we stay joyful? Studies show that simple things may help. Smile, even when it is not easy. Practice gratitude every day. I’ve shared before that I belong to a gratitude-sharing group that helps me start each day on a positive note, even if it is smiling at someone else’s joy. Resolving conflicts versus avoiding them can facilitate joy. Sounds strange, but how often is our joy stolen when we do not want to address something that is keeping us up at night? Mostly, having a people-centric, giving heart and making decisions for the right reasons can bring joy—even if the decisions are not always well received.

It’s our day-to-day habits that determine the overarching characteristics of our organizations and people. As lean leaders, we can cultivate joy by encouraging people and mentoring them along the way.

Being effective teachers and mentors is a driving force behind the people-centric leadership we foster at AME. You can learn more about how to cultivate joy in your workplace by attending our virtual course People-centric leadership 101: Essential leadership skills for an engaged culture in September. We’ll explore ways to develop a workplace culture that celebrates different perspectives, fosters collaboration and introspection, and fearlessly challenges ideas…all essential properties needed for a joyful work environment.

As always, please stay safe and keep looking out for one another.