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Thursday, September 17, 2009

All Work and No Fun

Don't you love it when a boss makes one of those "encouraging" presentation to the troops? It seems that one of the obligatory bullet points is about having fun: "Work has to be fun!" "One thing we have to be sure we have FUN!" In fact, if workers aren't having fun, they should find another job. Wow, that's such an empty statement. How out of touch or disingenuous are these bosses?

I've never heard one person say "I'm going to fun now" when heading to the office. Work is work and fun is fun. While sometimes they are the same thing (and that's great for those people who feel that way...although one could wonder what the rest of their lives are like if work is the best part of the day), most often they are two very distinct concepts.

While I have trouble with the "work is fun" concept, I do believe we can have fun with our co-workers as well as have rewarding experiences while at the office. I also believe that it's the boss's responsibility to help build an environment where positive events can happen. Two ways I'd like to share are:

1. Do Fun Stuff: I'm not talking about our tasks being fun. You can't count on that. What I am referring to is doing things that will put a smile on the faces of your team:
  • Start off your daily huddle, weekly staff meeting, or other event with an activity to get people up and moving. One time, one of our team members made me sing a song because I was called away at the last minute and was "late" for our meeting. I sang "I'm a little teapot" with the motions to go with it. As a boss, you've got to be ready to shed any shred of dignity you have, every once in a while, to show you're human.
  • Tell a joke whether it's good or bad (not off-color, though). I used to be known as the Chuck Norris jokester, with a list of really bad jokes that I shared. I can't tell jokes very well and the team heckling me was part of the fun.
  • Leave them with a memorable quote. One of my team members always had a quote ready for the end of every meeting. Sometimes they were really memorable and sometimes they weren't, but it was still a positive way to send us back to work.

2. Build on Accomplishments: I always want my team to have a sense of purpose and be proud of what we do. I find it very fulfilling to be part of a team that works hard, meets tough goals, and then gets to see how meeting the goals helps another group or even the entire organization. The key is for the boss to make a big deal about what the team accomplished and let everyone know he or she is proud of them (it's good if you can get your boss to acknowledge the efforts and results, too).

Just like parents telling their kids they love them, bosses can never tell their team members too much that they are winners and that they are proud of them. The key here is to be sincere. If you don't mean it when you praise your people, they'll know.

Am I totally off base about work being fun? What other actions can bosses take to help themselves and their teams have fun at work?

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