The Best Place to Work by Ron Friedman

The Big Idea: Happy employees are a competitive advantage.

 Chapter 1: Success is Overrated, Why Great Work Places Reward Failure
  • make it okay to try new things and fail
  • learn something from every failure, always
  • reward attempts, not just results
Chapter 2: The Power of Place, How Office Design Shapes Our Thinking
  • office design matters
  • eg. red invokes attention to detail, but also anxiety
  • eg. silence invokes focus, but also anxiety
  • optimal: caves + campfires
  • caves are quieter spaces where people can focus and think
  • campfires are interactive spaces where people can collaborate and communicate
  • good to have: safe and warm environment, nice views, scenes of nature, sunlight, lots of plants, aquariums,
  • use your workspace to convey what your company is about: Apple Store = simplicity, framed pictures, employee artwork,
  • let the team design their workspace
  • don’t forget about nice bathrooms (art, plants, magazines)
  • if possible, let people telecommute
Chapter 3: Why You Should Be Paid to Play
  • to improve problem solving and creative thinking, go on a walk
  • exercise improves your mood, triggers chemicals that reduces stress, and improves thinking
  • napping also improves problem solving and creating thinking
  • a careful balance of work and recovery is vital
  • late nights and burnout culture lower long-term productivity
  • disconnecting is important
Chapter 4: What Happy Workplaces Can Learn from a Casino
  • small, frequent pleasures can keep us happier than large, infrequent ones
  • perks communicate on an emotional level and provide a motivational boost
  • on-the-job rewards are significantly more motivating than cash bonuses
  • variety increases happiness
  • variation of activities make the workplace more enjoyable
  • unexpected pleasures deliver a bigger thrill
  • unexpected events have greater emotional weight
  • a constant flow of surprises keeps you engaged (movie, massage therapist)
  • experiences are more rewarding than objects; they involve other people, the memories improve with age; they can be relived
  • we don’t always know why we’re happy
  • color/scent/music can give an unconscious happiness boost
  • a grateful mind is a happy one;
  • gratitude: gratitude journal; ask staff to share what they are most proud of since last meeting; ask staff to thank someone else for a contribution made
  • excessive/extreme happiness can increase tendency to make mistakes, reduce motivation; people who don’t have negative emotions are called psychopaths
Chapter 5: How to Turn a Group of Strangers into a Community
  • the strongest predictor productivity: friendship at work
  • how to create workplace friendships: proximity, familiarity, similarity
  • how to accelerate friendship: share personal information
  • shared group activities (sports) >> happy hours and cocktail parties, because of interaction
  • a shared purpose (or common enemy) can unite factions
  • friendships at work help people stay emotionally and physically healthy
  • gossip can be a problem but it can also be useful to establish company culture and norms
  • gossip tends to happen when people are feeling powerless or insecure
  • identify strategic and persistent gossipers early
  • gossip tends to be a problem when leaders gossip
Chapter 6: The Leadership Paradox, Why Forceful Leaders Develop Less Productive Teams
  • intrinsic motivation > extrinsic motivation
  • emphasizing rewards reduces intrinsic motivation
  • the more emphasis placed on salary and bonuses, the more employees are going to focus on them
  • autonomy increases intrinsic motivation
  • let your team set their own calendar
Chapter 7: Better Than Money, What Games Can Teach Us About Motivation
  • the only thing that sustains happiness is status, respect and admiration among friends/family/peers
  • being recognized feels good
  • recognition feeds our need for competence
  • competence increases intrinsic motivation
  • being ignored is often more psychologically painful than being treated poorly
  • undeserved positive feedback is demoralizing to others who actually deserve the recognition
  • feedback is more effective when it is provided immediately
  • feedback is more effective when it is specific
  • compliment the behavior, not the person
  • public praise is more powerful than private praise
  • reward high performers with more responsibility
  • encourage peer-to-peer recognition
  • find a way to give meaning to the work (eg. nonprofit fundraisers)
  • to experience flow, work needs to be not too easy and not too hard
  • consider making on-the-job learning a requirement
  • acquiring new skills releases feel-good chemicals like dopamine
  • consider peer-to-peer coaching (pods of 3)
Chapter 8: How Thinking Like a Hostage Negotiator Can Make You More Persuasive, Influential, and Motivating
  • good communicators listen much more than they talk
  • good bosses listen much more than they talk
  • good listeners do a lot of paraphrasing and repeat backs
  • resolve workplace conflicts by understanding there is a task channel and a relationship channel
Chapter 9: Why the Best Managers Focus on Themselves
  • attitudes, emotions, and behaviors are contagious
  • leaders attitudes and habits are adopted by the members of their teams
  • culture comes from the top, so be aware that someone is always watching
Chapter 10: Seeing What Others Don’t, How to Eliminate Interview Blind Spots That Prevent You from Reading People’s True Potential
  • first impressions persist
  • referrals from your high performers (with no referral bonus) is the best strategy for hiring
  • interviews that involve a work assignment are optimal
  • cultural fit matters but too much similarity can lead to groupthink and impair innovation
Chapter 11: What Sports, Politics, and Religion Teach Us About Fostering Pride
  • pride in one’s company matters a lot
  • pride is fundamentally about status
  • share your company’s history with the team
  • share your company’s mission and vision with the team
  • being different is good (company culture)
  • include altruism alongside making a profit
  • emphasize everyone’s contribution: decision making, recognition by name
  • consider thanking a high performer’s family for that person’s efforts at work
  • avoid inflated job titles

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