There is no issue more serious than fun at work. Nevertheless it’s hardly talked about. Fun at work is one of the prime conditions for engagement, and one of the main antidotes against burnout.
If this is such an important part of working, how come we hardly talk about it ? And is it possible to manage it ? What is the role of the leader in creating a fun atmosphere? And how to keep the balance between having fun and doing business?
Humor & authenticity
Any leader can use humour in his work. Humour creates human interaction. It can help in putting things in perspective. It can add to creating a relaxed atmosphere. It makes people laugh and helps people de-stress. It gives also a sense of authenticity to the leader. It is also a powerful way to make a point. There is one condition: it has to be authentic, genuine. You cannot learn to be humoristic and if you don’t have the whit to tell a good joke or make a point by using humour don’t go there.
Isn’t there a risk in using humour? The risk is that business partners will not take you seriously; that you will be perceived as a clown? If humour is a part of your communication style, your personality, than you need not to be afraid to use it. You can observe how others react to it and if necessary you can adopt a different way of using your sense of humour. However, working in an environment that does not allow you to use this trait, is not likely to make you happy.
Creating a fun atmosphere
But fun at work cannot be reduced to telling a good joke, or showing whit. Having fun is about enjoyment. It’s about getting up and wanting to start the day. It’s about enjoying what you do, whom you do it with, … It’s about having a smile at work, feeling good and feeling that everything is “right”.
So creating a fun atmosphere is about making people feel that everything is right. That does not mean that you should avoid hard work. Neither does it mean that you have to focus on satisfaction (i.e. giving employees all that they desire). To me there are several ways to create a fun atmosphere:
- Respecting people for who they are and showing recognition for what they contribute. Some positive feedback can do wonders. Go out and look around you, there are many ways you can compliment on what is happening. Don’t avoid complimenting on seemingly small issues. If you only intervene when something goes wrong, you’re on the wrong way. Give them undivided attention when they need it.
- Showing attention for the full person. Your colleagues come to work as full persons : they are fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, neighbours, community workers, volunteers, … How they function at work is influenced by the other roles. Show respect and interest for those other roles, without interfering in their private lives.
- Putting everything in perspective, creating meaningfulness. For instance when someone makes an error – which is bound to happen – don’t blame but look for solutions and ways of avoiding it in the future. Also explaining why something needs to be achieved, putting things into a context so that it is worth while doing.
- Surprise people. Give them a reason to feel lucky to work where they work. Small actions can spice up life at work.
- Smile. And use your humour. Be yourself.