We use them to get work done, entertain us, make us laugh, connect with friends and learn new things. According to recent research coming out of Stanford University, it turns out they can flatter us too.
The researchers reported that when participants were given praise or flattery by a computer (even though the subjects knew the feedback was not necessarily genuine), it elicited the same positive emotions as flattery or praise provided by another human.
We all love being flattered and showered with praise. From the moment we enter this world till the day we say our final goodbyes, most of us thrive on the little moments of praise and flattery we encounter along the way. Given our collective drive to obtain the acknowledgement of other humans, it may seem counterintuitive that we are just as likely to enjoy the “fake” praise provided by an inanimate object as we are to revel in the genuine praise given by another sentient being.
But if this research is an accurate reflection of our consciousness as a society, team managers would do well to start paying attention.
If people feel as good receiving non-committal compliments from a computer as they do when receiving genuine praise, what else can we do as managers to keep our teams happy?
Whilst creating a happy team in the long-term requires hard work and a commitment to building and sustaining psychological safety, here are a few little hacks you can implement that will have an almost immediate impact on the happiness and morale of your team.
According to Tony Robbins, one of the 6 Core Human Needs is uncertainty, or put a little differently, surprise and spontaneity. We all love the certainty of routine and getting our next paycheck but we also crave the occasional surprise. It releases endorphins and we all know endorphins make you happy! Create little surprises for your team every now and then. Take them out on a day trip. Put a 5 euro note on everyone’s desk with a thank you card. Turn on some music. Bring in a cat for people to pet (you know you secretly want to…). Be creative!
Your team works hard everyday, likely with very little recognition. Acknowledge their work and celebrate their little wins everyday because people like feeling like winners. Create a “Little Wins” board where every member of the team needs to write down what work they were most proud of that day. This is kinda the same as Google’s “Day of the Dead” except in reverse.
Ideas are the currency of innovation and imagination. Employees often come up with great ideas for better ways of doing things but keep it to themselves for fear of judgement or ridicule. Provide and open and safe space for your team members to openly share their ideas during regular “Idea Hours” where the team get to discuss things they’ve been thinking about in an environment of positivity and openness.
A really great way to encourage gratitude between team members is to have a gratitude wall. Every week, put everybody’s name on pieces of paper and put them in a basket. Each team member has to randomly pick a piece of paper with a name on it and they need to write something positive about the person on the piece of paper and tape it onto the gratitude wall. Only the name of the person who’s been written about should show on the gratitude wall so that they can pick it up and read it anonymously when they choose to.
Promote a culture of positivity and purpose in your team by having a purpose board. Here, each team member writes down their motivation for the week. Why are they doing what they’re doing? What do they want to achieve and why? This doesn’t even need to be work-related (and it may be better if it isn’t!). This gives your team the ability to connect a deeper level outside of just work and create a more cohesive and meaningful work culture.
Feedback makes the world go round. But there are many different ways of giving feedback and it’s so important not to get it wrong. Create a psychologically safe space on a regular basis where team members can be honest about what they appreciate about each other and what they wish their teammates could improve upon. Check out what Tripaneer did to get their feedback sessions to ninja-level.
If weather permits (and that may seem like never if you live in Northern Europe!) take your team out to the local park or even just the cafe downstairs for your next meeting. No-one likes meetings (admit it) and changing up the environment every couple of weeks with a good coffee or some greenery will help boost morale, concentration and even get your teammembers excited about taking an hour out of their workday to talk shop.
Are you planning to try any of these 7 hacks? Would love to hear which one you plan to do and how!