The Happy Manifesto – book review

happyI came across The Happy Manifesto via an article by Oliver Beaumont in the LAMSIG newsletter. Part of Oliver’s article talks about how he introduced a “simple happiness feedback form” in staff appraisals influenced by his reading of Henry Stewart.

Henry Stewart is CEO of the training company Happy Ltd which trains around 20,000 people a year. His company has been awarded:

  • Best company in UK for customer service (Management Today)
  • Best work / life balance of any UK organisation (Financial Times)
  • Best positive impact on society of any UK small business (Business in the Community)
  • Best for promoting staff health and well-being of any UK company (Great Place to Work Institute)

One of the great things about this book is the relevance of what he says to the language teaching industry. Henry Stewart has set up and runs a very successful company running IT courses. OK, it’s not language teaching but it is in the field of education.

It’s a very easy┬áread with lots of personal anecdotes and practical suggestions for applying what he is promoting. Each chapter focuses on a different area included in Henry Stewart’s Happy Manifesto and ends with different reflective questions and a bibliography.

This is his Happy Manifesto:

  1. Trust your people
  2. Make your people feel good
  3. Give freedom within clear guidelines
  4. Be open and transparent
  5. Recruit for attitude, train for skill
  6. Celebrate mistakes – a no-blame culture
  7. Community – create mutual benefits
  8. Love work, get a life
  9. Select managers who are good at managing
  10. Play to your strengths

I found it inspirational and it definitely resonates with how I think language teaching organisations should be run. I was a believer before I read this book but it still gave me lots of new ideas which I want to try to apply and reminded me of some good management practices which I need to do more of.

I think it should be required reading for all owners, directors and managers of language teaching organisations.


The Happy Manifesto by Henry Stewart – Make your organisation a great place to work (2012)