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Happy to learn from the best

I recently visited a company called Happy Computers, which has become well known for its innovative approach to managing its team. This was arranged by Onsite Insights, which specialises in arranging visits to companies that demonstrate best practice in specific areas of their business, e.g. manufacturing methods, marketing etc., as well as people management.

Happy Computers is a small privately owned IT training company based in the City of London. Even though we at K&H think ourselves to be very progressive, I was impressed by many of the innovations at Happy Computers.

Here is a list of the main points and ideas that I came away with.

1. Management hierarchy of needs. These are the defining characteristics of the best workplaces.

Examples of trust:

• Not copying people in on emails just to show you have done your share of the task.

• Say “I trust you” to your team members!

2. The key role of managers is to create a working environment where people feel good about themselves, their colleagues and the place where they work.

3. Individuals should set their own targets, subject to an overall framework.

4. Celebrate mistakes! These are great learning opportunities and nothing will inspire loyalty in an employee more than knowing you see their failings so positively.

5. Happy Computers pays 20% profits to charity BUT in the form of time contributed, not just cash.

6. Stop redoing other team members’ work like the wording of their emails/letters etc. Coach them to improve instead.

7. Read Flight of the Buffalo: Soaring to Excellence, Learning to Let Employees Lead by James Belasco and Ralph Stayer.

8. Review Happy Computer’s ‘peer appraisal forms’ (similar to K&H’s 360 degree review/feedback system).

10. Beware of pretending to consult the team over major decisions when the real decisions have already been made.

11. Base the company profit-based team bonus scheme allocation on hours not salary.

12. Put ‘Save energy’ postcards on all light switches.

13. Have complete openness about salaries, e.g. on the intranet. Include the three reasons for each person’s most recent pay rise.

14. Give copious praise for good work, even if you can’t afford pay rises.

15. Look at the Great Place to Work Institute (

16. Ask clients if they want to do 360 degree forms on us (i.e. score each member of the team they deal with).

17. Do we at K&H want to be a host company for Onsite Insights, and allow other business people to visit K&H to find out about the way we do things, perhaps targeting other ‘professional’ firms?

Let me know if you’d like to know more about how Onsite Insights works, and how to arrange a visit to one of its host companies such as Happy Computers.

One Response to “Happy to learn from the best”

  1. Andrew

    Great to know you had a good day at Happy & got so many ideas out of it.

    I love the idea of you spreading the concept of happiness at work to an accountants. Good luck!

    Best wishes

    Henry Stewart, Founder, Happy Ltd

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