Colleen Hannegan

Finding the words....and the perfect pair of glasses.

spirited business owner

Do your employees like working here?

Featured, Spirited WorkColleen HanneganComment

You certainly hope so don’t you! Or maybe you’d be pleased to have their respect and not worry whether they like you or not.

The most valuable possession as a business owner is having employees who LOVE working for you. Next best thing is they LIKE working for you ALOT. Your staff each carry an integral part of the success or failure of your business because of the management style and care you offer them. Are you tuned in to how they feel about working for you? Have you asked each one if they are satisfied with their responsibilities, the management you provide and the total work environment they step into each day?

In his book PEAK, Chip Conley, founder and CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality mentions examples of enlightened companies that are optimizing their relationships with employees while simultaneously generating amazing financial success. To best understand the needs and working conditions of his hotel cleaning staff, Chip spent time making beds and cleaning toilets alongside his staff, listening and watching how best to not only insure rooms were meticulously cared for but to connect with all his employees by understanding their daily job needs. He wanted them to know he recognised their work and valued their contribution. And clean beds and clean toilets (and happy staff) was as important to the success of his company as his ace marketing plans and securing million dollar investors.  Chip took his struggling company from the, post-9/11 economy and grew it into the second largest boutique hotelier in the world.

In his chapter Karmic Capitalism, he offers examples of “The Pursuit of Happiness at Work.” Remember our Declaration of Independence? “Thomas Jefferson and our founding fathers rephrased English philosopher John Locke’s dictum of “life, liberty, and property” to something that was a little more karmic. They chose pursuit of happiness to cap their mission statement.”

You can do the same for your company.

If you surrender the fear that keeps you from allowing employees to contribute their ideas. Because what if their idea is better than yours? Or what if they bring attention to a system that is not working before you noticed?

Than you have chosen your employees well.

Why are employees grumbling so often? I’ve listened to employees describe their boss as a “control freak” or someone who hears what you say but doesn’t listen and never remembers to see to requests and needs.

Chip cites examples of other management success. In his book, Joy at Work, Dennis Bakke says most companies haven’t evolved from the industrial mentality of management. He eliminated the stagnant job description and reorganised his company into autonomous teams that were given “unprecedented decision-making flexibility”. Leaders showed trust in the choices their people made and created familylike groups to improve moral and team work throughout the company.

In the Seven-Day Weekend, written by Ricardo Semlar of Semco, based in Brazil shares his management philosophy of questioning all the old paradigms in running a corporation. Semco employees are able to choose their own salaries, set their own hours, and have no job titles. Wow. There’s a radical example of trust in the  potential of capable and motivated employees. No wonder his management practices are considered the most radical in the world. He has grown his company to close to $250 million in annual sales and has almost no employee turnover.

While these large companies may have indeed some radical strategies for assuring employee happiness, they are a good example of creating conscious ideas to insure your staff is motivated, connected and dedicated to being the reason your company succeeds.

Talk to your staff. Think more like a family. Offer opportunities and ideas that encourage their vital contribution.

More important than marketing. More important than one more boring employee meeting. More important than an outdated and uninspired employee manual.

Consider the nature of your employees. Life. Liberty. Their hot pursuit of Happiness. Write that at the top of your new and improved, conscious employee manual.

Them ask them what would make them happy.


Write it down.


Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity

Featured, Spirited WorkColleen HanneganComment

"The world was made to be free in. Anything or anyone that does not bring you alive, is too small for you…..Give up all the worlds except the one you belong to.”

My retreat with poet David Whyte in Monterey, CA this past week-end was an awakening to the pilgrims way of life and work; the path of open heart, invitation of friendship and and balance of familiar home with wandering  journey. He guided his captive audience through poems and lectures about coming to “the edge of us” and listening to the conversation we live in. “What kind of invitation are we listening to in our lives?”

“A life lived best is in appreciation of horizons whether you reach them or not.”

Our journey of work is our own pilgrims path to self expression in the world. Some days bliss, some days not! We intuitively know we are here to give more than we receive and in so doing, learn not only who we uniquely are but how much our giving feeds our own lives in the end.

“Sincere pilgrims pay attention to the landscape.” And so must we as spirited business owners. All we need lies at our feet and all around us and within. Greet the friends that help you along the way, and stay fast on your goals to your horizon. Our work is our “pilgrimage of identity.”

“The way forward always, in the end, is the way you came.”