Agile LeadershipAginext Community

Meet the Community: Henry Stewart

We are continuing our series of interviewing (some of) our favourite 2019 speakers and facilitators so you can get to know them before you join us 18 October at Agile Tour London.

And what better way to follow up Playful Portia’s interview than with Happy Henry?

What makes a happy workplace?

For me, it’s largely about the culture the management creates. What people don’t like are micro management, being told what to do and blame cultures.

What they do like is being able to do what they are good at (playing to strengths), having the freedom to use their own judgement, managers who coach rather than tell, a no-blame culture and to feel listened to and valued.

How do you know your team at Happy Ltd is… well… happy?

We check in with them regularly. Obviously first their coaches at their regular one-to-ones. At each (four monthly) check in we ask what percentage of their time they find joy in their work.

It’s currently at 75% average.

Tell us about what you call your Happiness Challenge. How can someone in a position of leadership really make no decisions for three whole months?! Where has it worked? Where have folks struggled?

Is a leader’s role to make decisions or to create the environment where the right people (normally those close to the front line) make the decisions?

It originated with David Marquet, who implemented it on the US Navy Submarine Santa Fe, and took it from underperforming to the best performing submarine in US Navy history.

It worked in a UK DIY store where two store managers took on the challenge. Every KPI improved and staff talked about how they now enjoyed coming to work.

It worked at Happy. I adopted it in 2017 and it led to 26% growth and a shift from a loss to a profit.

Your #ATLDN workshop will touch on topics including “Become more of a multiplier, less of a diminisher.” What does that mean? Tell us a story about you applying this in the real world.

Becoming more of a multiplier: Most of us have had managers under whom we did less well than we thought we were capable of (diminishers) but most of us have also had managers under whom we did better than we expected (managers).

One example of a multiplier: “He threw in the deep end. Three months in, he got me to present to an audience that included the minister. I was terrified, but he gave me his full support and, to be hoenst, it was the making of me.” Multipliers get out of the way, challenge but also provide support.

Read all about Henry’s full workshop ‘Let’s create happy, productive workplaces

Now, how about a glimpse at one of your 80 ideas for a happier workplace from your Happiness Manifesto.

Let people choose their managers.

Bonus Question: Tell us a fun, unique fact about you!

My passion outside of work is cycling and I completed the Haute Route Alps, known as the toughest amateur cycling tournament – 3 Tour de France cols a day against a time limit. Not bad for a 57 year old!

Photos courtesy of Henry