Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Workplace Fun

Guest post by Great Leadership monthly contributor Beth Armknecht Miller:

Last month I wrote about Silly Putty, so I thought I would follow on with fun in the work place. It isn’t impossible. And leaders need to understand that not only can work be fun, it isn’t a “bad” word.

“I never did a day's work in my life. It was all fun.” Thomas Edison

Wouldn’t you love to have a team of Thomas Edisons all enjoying themselves everyday and all day?  As a leader you know that this is a very rare occurrence. But there are ways to improve your team member’s experience so that they are experiencing more times of fun.

Have you had days at work that were fun yet others didn’t seem to be having fun? While other days everyone else was enjoying themselves and you were struggling to make it through the day? Fun is in the eyes of the beholder. So how do you understand what is fun to others around you?
Fun to one is drudgery to another and there are several tips to use that can help you and your team to have fun while at the same time accomplish the difficult goals you have set in place.

1.     Understand differences and embrace them

Too often we focus in how we are different from a negative perspective rather than stretching ourselves to understand how the differences between people can lead to richer ideas and solutions.

The first step to understanding is having a personal conversation, reach out and learn more about the employee as a person. What were some significant events in their lives?  What takes up their time when they aren’t working? The point is that it is much easier to have fun with people you know!

2.     Focus on strengths

When people excel and are challenged by using their innate talents they have a sense of accomplishment and pride in the work they do. If you have an employee who is consistently being asked to perform tasks that they have difficulty accomplishing, maybe they are in the wrong position. And I bet they aren’t having fun! Great leaders quickly determine what strengths someone has and work with them to strengthen them so they can rise to their full potential. 

3.     Wipeout Viral Infections

Viral infections are the people who are infecting others. They make it very hard to have fun at work.  You know these people.  They are the ones who others avoid like the plague.  They are the employees that other employees spend productive time talking about. They are the ones who only see lemons and no lemonade. As a leader don’t let these people suck the lifeblood out of your team!

4.     Liven Up the Workplace

Those companies with really strong and vibrant cultures often have workplaces that mirror their culture.  Many of us have seen these types of workplaces in Silicon Valley and other technology driven companies. Zappos took the idea of workplace to an extreme.  Take a look at this video of the Zappos family .

I am not suggesting that all companies workplace be like Zappos.  But the idea of giving employees and various departments the opportunity to choose the “interior decorations” of their workspace gives employees the ability to show who they are as a person.  This provides others with a better understanding of who they are working with AND allows the employee to be themselves.

I finish up with the Zappos example with a purpose.  The Zappos culture is extreme if you lead a law practice or a bank branch. And even though it is an extreme culture, it is very successful.  The point is that bringing fun to the workplace can improve your success as a company.

The questions for you are:  What are you going to do to make your company more fun to work for, AND what constraints are holding you back that need to be removed?

Beth Armknecht Miller’s is CEO of Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. Beth is a trusted executive consultant, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer. She is a graduate of Babson College and Harvard Business School’s OPM program. She is certified in Myers Briggs, Hogan, and Business DNA. And she is a Certified Managerial Consultant. Beth’s insight and expertise has made her a sought-after speaker, and she has been featured in numerous industry blogs and publications. To learn more about Beth visit or

1 comment:

Kris Smith said...

The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.