Have Fun At Work And Improve Performance While You’re At It
“Did you try harder?!”
That was my favorite response when someone on my team came for help solving a problem… especially someone new. The response would initially got a surprised pause followed by a smile when she realizes it’s a joke. Eventually, people would start by “Yes Noor, I tried harder…” and continue with the issue at hand.
Little jokes like that lightened up the mood and added a little fun in our workplace. It was a piece of a puzzle of creating a great working atmosphere where people actually enjoyed coming to work. I loved it.
Create Your Own Work Environment
When I started my first managing job, I went to my sister who kept raving about how great the atmosphere was at her work was. She shared some of the initiatives her company did, but I couldn’t replicate any of them because they were specific to her company.
So that was a bummer, but it helped me get into a frame of mind to create my own atmosphere instead of replicating someone else’s.
My team and I eventually created an environment that was unique to us. We had a great team that had fun and actually performed better… we shared some great memories.
Getting the right balance of fun and responsibility at the workplace means you will have a team that will:
– Harder working team: people will feel connected to the team and will work harder to achieve the team’s goals
– Less turnover: People will stick around because they like where they work
– More… umm… fun and less stress
Tips For Adding Fun Into The Workplace
So I want to share some tips, based on what I learned, on injecting fun into the workplace:
– Be yourself: I know you’re probably rolling your eyes, but it’s true. Don’t try to copy someone else’s jokes because it will not be natural. Just be yourself and let your natural sense of humor come out… but watch out for the following things.
– Let them make it their own: Perhaps the most important thing is to let people add their personality and sense of humor into the mix. Let them suggest activities, events, or jokes. Don’t assume you will be the one to bring all the humor into the workplace. You will have some super funny people when you open the door for them to express themselves.
– Respect: Everyone on the team must maintain respect for each other. So no jokes that humiliate anyone or get a laugh at someone else’s expense.
– No-fly zones: Avoid these three topics: religion, sex, and race. People have the tendency to get emotional about them… and that’s just not fun.
– Serious time: Depending on your industry and workflow, there are times when your team needs to be serious. You might need to give negative feedback to someone and jokes will just dilute the message or confuse the person. Remember that you set the tone and once in a while you will have to remind people who mess up their timing.
– Don’t force it: Jokes are about timing and sometimes its just not right. A person might be in a bad mood or dealing with a serious issue. If s/he is not responsive, then don’t push it. Let it be. Be one with the moment young grass hopper.
– Adjust to people: One of the beautiful, and difficult, things about having a team is that everyone is different in his/her own way. Some people are more serious than others. Some can take a joke while others don’t take a joke too well. Adjust your jokes to the person. For example, I used to hang stuffed animals for vertically challenged girls on my team so they are just out of their reach. It became a trademark I was known for. Some of the stuffed animals were left hung up a year after I left the company.
– If you dish it out, take it: I had a friend who was great at joking with people, but got upset when others joked with him. That was not cool. So lighten up and take a joke. As long as the respect line is not crossed, don’t get all caught up taking jokes personally.
– Break the ice: Your team will be apprehensive about joking with you, especially new-comers. I made it a point to joke with new comers to break the ice. It helped make them more comfortable in their new environment and lightened the mood for everyone. Other times, I would ask “who wants some iced coffee” as I got up to make some. It’s not funny, but it lightened the mood.
– Don’t forget accountability: It’s great for everyone to have fun, but everyone is there to deliver results. Its your responsibility to “tighten the rope” when people forget about performance. Fresh graduates are more likely to make the mistake of loosening up on performance when they are having so much fun. It’s an important lesson to guide them when they do.
What tips do you have for having fun at work? Share your comments.