Home » Managing for Happiness: Jurgen Appelo at TEDxLille (Full Transcript)

Managing for Happiness: Jurgen Appelo at TEDxLille (Full Transcript)

Here is another example: Let’s say your manager is Mick. You once asked Mick for some budget to attend a conference, maybe a TEDx event, or you asked him to be allowed to work from home, or maybe you just wanted a more accurate job title. But no matter what you ask for, Mick always says: “No, sorry. No, we cannot do these things around here.” The last scientific test: If you know managers like Mick who always say no to anything that you ask, at the count of three say: “Tricky Micky”. All right? Let’s test: 1, 2, 3!

Audience: Tricky Micky!

My god! 99.8%! Except those 2, they are facebooking over there. I can see that! Managers make employees sign contracts, but the problem with contracts is they impose limits on people’s freedoms and happiness. That’s why I have decided to have no contracts with my current team members. It’s an experiment! This is the results of the experiment so far. They seem happy to me. When anyone of them says: “Next month I would like to work from Bali, at half of my productivity.” I say: “Well we have no contract so go for it, we’ll figure out how to make it work.”

Or when one of them says: “I would like to have a different job.” They write their own job titles. Our chief geek, our zookeeper and our project bottleneck… They have no contracts limiting their creativity. And my own title of Emperor God Overlord suits me quite well. I believe that having no contracts forces us to keep everyone happy. Because at any moment, any person can say: “Screw you guys, I’m out of here!” Some people see this as innovative management. I see it as helping us to focus, not on time and locations and titles, but on meaningful products and services.

Here is one of the worst management practices that I have ever experienced. It was many years ago, when I was working at a big company. The top managers wanted to incentivize some of their employees through a bonus system. Interesting idea. But in order to calculate who should get how much, the CFO had a big spreadsheet full of data about everyone. It contained people’s current salaries, seniority levels, clocked hours, overtime hours, performance ratings, years of employment, sick days, and much more. I’m quite sure somewhere in there, it also had people’s keystrokes per minute and toilet breaks per day. Anyways. Once per year based on all this data and the company’s annual profits, the spreadsheet would calculate everyone’s individual bonuses. I remember one year when the company profits were not that high some employees got an annual bonus of a staggering 20 euros. The managers received a bit more.

How many of you think that these employees felt incentivized? I think it would have done less damage to their motivation if they had been paid with fish-flavored macarons. How did I change from being a bad manager to not that bad? I showed you the seven silver bullets already. Let’s look at them again one by one. We can only address the world’s biggest challenges with meaningful products and services. This requires innovation delivery which is only possible with innovative management. Due to the ever increasing pace of change in the world, innovation needs faster learning. Researchers and scientists know that learning is optimal when we run more experiments. As children we learned long ago that experimentation is part of playing.

But people only play and run experiments, when they’re having fun and being happy. Finally, as managers we cannot make people happy, but we can certainly create an environment, a system for happiness. Those are the seven silver bullets that I found. To make this all easier to understand for the managers in this room, (French) and the directors and the CEOs, I will now show them again as a list of boring bullet points with some cheesy clipart. And I can make it even more impressive by pointing at it with my laser beam.

So with these seven silver bullets, you can now address the world’s biggest challenges. Here’s a final example. I told you about a bad bonus system. This is how my current team earns their bonus money now. At the start of the month, each person has 100 points, and they use the rest of the month to credit each other for their performance. 10 points to Vorums for helping me out today, five points to Sergey for your super-fast response, 15 points to Pillar for not killing me when I screwed up today. These points that they receive from each other, they build up over time.

As the business owner, every month I set aside some bonus money depending on the performance of the whole company. Like a jackpot, this bonus money also builds up over time. The only thing left to do is to pick a good moment to decide when to confer those credits that they received from each other into real money received. This is how we do that.

(Video) Woman: Ok dice! Come on big money! Big money! Everyone give it a kiss! Come on lucky dice, we love you. It’s a 6! Can you see that?

We have a simple company rule. At the start of the month, one person throws a dice. If that person throws a six, we pay up bonuses. No 6? No bonus! That’s it! The reason we do it like this is so that none of us can predict when it is bonus payout time. After all, we all know what happens when people are promised a bonus in December. They will have spent the money before they even received it. And when it is less than expected, as it often is, they will be demotivated. “Oh my god, only 20 euros but I already shopped that Louis Vuitton.” That won’t happen on our team. Our team loves the bonus system. They think it is their own little Monte Carlo Casino. And they can only win. I am not trying to convince you to adopt a new bonus system, but I hope that you see the seven silver bullets at work here that I apply as a not-so-bad manager. These crowdsourced bonuses, that is a system that I manage.

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