“Business is business and business must grow…” – The Lorax (Dr. Seuss)
We all take business so serious. We focus on little numbers. We get all obtuse over odd details. People often want to take the fun out of work. In this blog post I am going to argue that by focusing on just three things, you can improve your fun at work and yield better results long term.
Why should work be fun? Why should we joke around at work? The Wall Street Journal has an article describing some of the advantages of being less serious at work.
The article makes some good points that using a little humor in your day to day work can improve results in many areas and why to not be so focused on the stuffy business goals all the time.
When should you use humor? The first is meetings. I find many meetings to be insufferable. People stepping through a boring list, item by item. That is a slow soul killer to all. Instead of a boring list of items, try spicing them up.
Now spicing up a single list won’t be enough. It is a general attitude you must bring to work every day. People will tell you shouldn’t do the following things at work: tell jokes, use nicknames, hide your coworker’s stapler, poop in the urinal. But I think we need to continually be on the lookout for opportunities to spice up the work place.
Now we do have to be careful about going too far with humor. My biggest piece of advice would be don’t focus too much on a single individual. Don’t be Shaq and continually pick on McGee.
While there most certainly needs to be boundaries at work, it is important to cultivate an environment of fun. Fun means a lot of things to a lot of people, but some general guidelines are:
Getting things done
If you feel like you are treading water, you probably are not having much fun. Hopefully your work culture makes some space to let loose and have a little time to blow off steam.
Taking time to interact with other humanoids
This could be over a game of cards at lunch, or maybe just trying to set up a prank. Just engaging in some kind of non-work activity helps to keep walls from being built.
Understanding how one’s work fits into the bigger picture
During the past year, DPL has been adopting the EOS Traction methodology. This has been a great way for us to step back and get our heads around all the moving pieces. It gives us perspective. It sheds light on things we maybe didn’t know.
Allowing all voices to be heard
One of the most damaging things we can do is not listen to each other. We need to make that space in our teams and ourselves. I guarantee we will all learn something.
Making sure no one is on an island or a continual death march
This one is particularly valuable and applicable to me. I know that when working long hours my mental sense of wellbeing slowly drops, and my interactions eventually begin to suffer. We need to constantly be on the lookout for when people seem to be stressed week after week, and do what we can to take some of the burden off them.
Be a Team Member
Instead of just being just another employee at work, be a team member. Don’t be a worker, be an engine. Bring your personality and your passions to work. This area is where a single wet blanket can destroy a team, but also a single passionate individual can really change things.
Every day ask yourself what needs to happen for the team to succeed. Often it is completely the tasks assigned to you. But somedays it is stepping up and helping with a support issue. Somedays it is taking a weary coworker out to lunch.
This article isn’t about things to avoid. We have way too many people that want to be Pig Wonts in the world. This article is about things to do (Pig Wills). Good team members are Pig Wills. Focus on finding solutions instead of complaining about the situation.
How does any of this apply to being so business? What does that even mean? Why is there a Dr. Seuss quote at the start of this blog post? Let me start with the last question first.
In The Lorax, the Once-ler focuses too much on building his business and destroys the world around him. Sometimes we all focus to much on the business and we destroy the people around us. By destroying the people, we eventually destroy the business from the inside.
What does being so business mean? Focusing too much on the numbers. Focusing too much on monthly revenue, and not as much on monthly happiness. Just because it can’t be quantified doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.
Warning: I have been informed by everyone that you should not poop in the urinal!