Niko-Niko

When it comes to management, there are several tools that can keep track of the performance and productivity of your team but one aspect that is often overlooked is keeping a record of the happiness of the team. Once you start doing it, you will note that tracking the happiness of your team is not only fun and engaging for everyone but also makes the management part more manageable. There are some tools that you can use to track the happiness of your team and one of the very effective options is a Niko-Niko Calendar.

What is a Niko-Niko Calendar?

As you can probably tell from the name, the Niko-Niko calendar is a tool that has originated from Japan. Ms. Sachiko Kuroda from Fujitsu Software Technologies Limited came up with this genius idea at Yokohama in 2005. Niko, in Japanese, means ‘to smile’ and the Niko-Niko Calendar is something that helps your team end their day with a smile. But how does that work?

How Does the Niko-Niko Calendar Work?

This happiness management tool is designed on the principles of minimalism, like almost anything that comes from Japan. The calendar is nothing more than a sheet of paper (or excel or any other tool to keep a track) with the name of the employee written in the first column on the left and the weekdays written on the first line on the top. All you need to do is to print the calendar (or draw it on a whiteboard) and hang it on a wall in the office or share the excel sheet online. At the end of the day, the employees are required to fill the box corresponding to that day and their name. They can draw ‘emoticons’ or use preset colors to denote how ‘happy’ they were that day at work. For example, you can set blue like a normal day, red like a bad day, and green as a good day. The Niko-Niko Calendar is usually made for one week at a time. At the end of the week, it can be worked out who had a happy week and who did not.

How Does the Niko-Niko Calendar Help in Management?

Like all management 3.0 practices and tools, you can modify the Niko-Niko calendar to match the needs of your team. You can use four or five levels of happiness instead of three, use the calendar in the morning rather than the evening or even use it twice a day to see how your employees feel at the start versus the end of the day. There are numerous benefits of using this calendar.

Here are a few of them:

  • When people share something as personal as their level of happiness with others on the team, it creates an environment of trust and empathy.
  • You can keep track and observe patterns of the happiness of your employees to find out what causes them to not be happy at work.
  • People can be assigned the work they are happy doing and that can increase the productivity of the team.

The critical side about Niko-Niko calendar

The truth according to my own experiences with several teams, the frequency of filling the Niko-Niko calendar might be critical. I have seen several teams not that happy about having to fill up the Niko Niko Calendar daily, as they couldn’t see any benefit of filling it at that high frequency.

After investigating the why they were perceiving it as useless tool, we found that since they were no actions taken by the managers or the organizations to mediate to help unhappy employees, the collaborators and teams where questioning its use and its benefits.

Having experienced the above, I like to suggest using it weekly to teams, (or at the end of a sprint if we are practicing Scrum or Scrumban at the retrospective ceremony). The aim is to build a correspondence, between the emotional state of the team and each team member, with the events occurred during the week or during the sprint.

This way, we gain a good understanding of what make the team happy, and we do more of it, and we know what makes the team unhappy, so we try to have a less of it.

To resume, the team needs to feel that is useful for them. How? We need to act to help them as facilitators or managers and show them that we really care about them. If there are some actions to help the team be more happy at work, they must be done or at least tried.

Special thanks

I would like to thanks all the teams that I had the chance to work with and experience agile practices with them. Without you, I wouldn’t have been able to write this article. I hope it will be helpful to the communities of workers (Developers, Designers, Marketers, managers, waiters, Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, managers, and the list go on).

MORE YOU KNOW, MORE YOU GROW :

To know more about this practice, you could find more details here: management30: Niko-Niko Calendar

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