By the Hapkey team

Do you have an unhappy team? This simple one-hour workshop will help

Post by
Marcus Castenfors
Do you have an unhappy team? This simple one-hour workshop will help
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Picture this. 

You just joined the Teams meeting. 



No one says hi. There’s no small-talk. The facial expressions show that this meeting is as fun as going to the dentist.

What’s going on? 

Why did we end up in this situation? 

We’re sure that this is not an uncommon scenario. Especially in a remote, or hybrid environment. It’s almost impossible to truly understand what’s happening beneath the surface. Why are they behaving this way? What’s causing the team’s unhappiness? Is it my fault? Does the project suck? Am I a bad manager?

At Hapkey, we’ve used the following workshop to surface unhappiness factors and to — empower — the team to fix problems themselves, rather than you, the manager, being the “fixer”. 

Here’s the recipe that we use.

First, block an hour of your team’s time.

Use an online whiteboard, such as Miro, to capture everyone’s ideas.


Agenda table

During the introduction, do three things:

  • Explain ‘why’ we are organizing this workshop: why you care about the team’s happiness
  • Bring to light that the happiness of the team is the responsibility of everyone and that everyone’s ideas matter
  • Express that this is a ‘safe’ environment and that in order for this workshop to be successful, we need to be fully transparent of what’s causing unhappiness in the team

Before getting into the workshop, it’s always good to have a few laughs to break the ice. We recommend using Daresay’s Check-in Generator to show some entertaining statements or questions to the audience. 

Unhappiness factors

This exercise is done in two steps:

Step 1: 

Once the team has warmed up, it’s time to generate unhappiness factors, things that are causing frustration and friction. A useful question to ask: “What sucks the most in your professional life, right now”?

Ask the team to individually write post-its with their unhappiness factors.

Unhappiness factors
Step 2: 

Ask the team to cluster the post-its, in silence.

Step 3: 

Now ask the team to write headlines for their clusters. Create a set of round black post-its and ask them to use these to write their headlines.

Idea clusters

Awesome. Now you have a clear sense of what the core unhappiness factors are. Some might be awkward for you to see as a manager, since they might relate to you – put your ego aside and move on to the next part of the workshop.

Happiness experiments

You are at a point where you can generate ideas on how to address the unhappiness factors. Depending on the size of your team, break them into smaller groups (3-4 people) and ask them to do the following:

Step 1:

Individually review the unhappiness factors

Step 2: 

Fill in the happiness experiment template that you have prepared beforehand.

Happiness experiments
Experiments post-it

By the end of the previous exercise, each group will have generated two to three experiments. Now ask the groups to review all the experiments in silence, a gallery-walk. This will take about three minutes.


Now, use the voting function in Miro/Mural or prepare dot votes (small round stickies) and give everyone three votes each on the experiments that they think are most important. 

When everyone has voted, discuss the top three. Give kudos to everyone for generating experiments.

Next steps

Ask everyone in the room if someone wants to be the ‘driver’ of an experiment. The driver will take the next step to start running the experiment. It doesn’t mean that the person owns the experiment, the person just needs to take the next step which might be: to organize a follow up meeting, workshop or talk to a stakeholder.

There could be some awkward silence at first, but there will be people who will step up. 

A good rule of thumb is to have at least two experiments as a result of the workshop. 

When you have identified two drivers, you need to celebrate. Give everyone a round of applause. You did it. You now have experiments to increase the happiness of the team.


There you have it: a simple workshop that will empower your team to become happier. We are absolutely certain that it will bring value to your team and will develop you as a manager. You will do great. We are cheering for you on the side-lines.

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Further reading

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