Recently at a neighborhood social, I noticed how most people in the room were chiming-in about how hard they work – like a badge of honor. Even the guy who recently retired said, “I’m working harder now than ever…I have so many things I need to do!”
So, I tried an experiment. Instead of asking, “How are you?” I asked, “So,what are you doing for fun these days?”
Immediately the energy changed. Gone were the self-protecting clichés. The mindless platitudes gave away to engaging responses like, “That’s a great question!” and “I have a lot of fun in my life, but I never think about it.” As a result, the conversations were memorable and much more…”fun.”
Fun @ work
Last week, we produced the Good Leadership Breakfast Series as part of the Performance Excellence Network (PEN) Conference. It was a big day for us…and it was fun! The guest speaker was my good friend, Dan Mallin; a serial entrepreneur whose work is changing the world. As he was recanting the success formula he and business partner, Scott Litman, have used to build high-performing technology firms, he emphasized the catalytic power of having “fun at work.”
“We have deliberately built the idea that work can be fun into our business model,” he shared with more than 300 guests. “There are times when people are working almost around the clock to build and finish cool solutions for their clients. The only way to get that kind of world-class effort is to make sure the work environment is fun.” Dan also beamed about a unique company tradition: Chief Beer Officer. “At Beer:30 on Fridays, the CBO walks around the office with a beer cart to celebrate a good week.”
What culture are you building?
I have two personal mantras that I try to keep alive in my own company:
- We get out of life what we put in to it
- We do our best work when we are light, easy, and joyful.
Psychologists measure our need for fun by a scale called “hedonism.” While it’s true that not everyone needs a light, easy, and joyful culture at work to produce at their best, the opposite seldom works: When was the last time your customer gave you high marks for work produced by a heavy, hard, and miserable culture?
Good leaders create great results by building a workplace where people love their work. And they produce great conversations by asking, “What are you doing for fun these days?”
Please share with me: How much of your fun comes from your work?
Read the press release about our new partnership with the Performance Excellence Network here.