The Benefits of Having Fun at Work

Credit: Unsplash

 By Jeff Wolf

Time to read: 1 minute

If people aren’t excited and energized about going to work, things must change. After all, you spend one-third of your time at work. Fun must be part of an organization’s strategy. Look at the list of companies that make fun part of their strategy and culture: Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, Disney, Nordstrom, Walmart, Trader Joe’s, and Land’s End. What else do these organizations have in common? They are all very profitable!

I can think of four specific benefits for businesses that encourage fun:

  1. Fun is a healer. When people are having fun, the brain releases chemicals called endorphins, which help heal the body. It reduces absenteeism and helps keep people healthy and happy each day.
  2. Fun breeds creativity and new ideas. As people enjoy their jobs and have fun, they become more creative and imaginative. They begin to think outside the box and don’t fear failure.
  3. Fun helps maintain workplace relations. America has the most diverse workforce in its history. People come to work every day with different cultural backgrounds. We also have a multigenerational workforce: people in their 20s to those in their 60s. And when they’re having fun at work, it breaks down barriers. They enjoy being with each other, can discuss their differences openly, and share new ideas.
  4. When you have fun at work, it makes training and teaching easier. In fact, fun is an excellent teaching tool. Whenever our company holds workshops or conducts training, we make sure to include strategically placed activities that focus on fun. The feedback we always receive is positive. Participants say they learned a lot and had fun doing it!

Having fun at work also impacts the bottom-line: Fun prompts energy levels to rise. Energy is contagious, and productivity soars. As the company enjoys increased productivity, there’s greater innovation. New ideas and concepts take flight, and the bottom line improves considerably.

The first time I flew Southwest Airlines I was amazed by every employees’ high energy and enthusiasm, without exception. All of them were having fun and enjoying their work, from the baggage handlers, reservations agents, and gate attendants, all the way up to and including the pilot. As I waited for my flight, I observed how the employees’ positive attitudes and infectious enthusiasm spread to the passengers. Everyone was smiling, upbeat and having a good time. No wonder Southwest is so profitable.

Jeff Wolf is the author of the international best-seller Seven Disciplines of a Leader. 

A dynamic speaker and highly requested executive coach he was named one of the country’s top 100 thought leaders for his accomplishments in leadership development and managerial effectiveness. 

He may be reached at 858-638-8260 or jeff@wolfmotivation.com.

Building an Optimal Team – Team Health

By Jeff Wolf –  Seven Disciplines of a Leader

All the competitive advantages – strategy, technology, finance, marketing – that we’ve pursued in the past are gone. The disciplines haven’t disappeared, but they have lost their power as meaningful competitive advantages, as real differentiators that can set your company apart. Why? Virtually every organization has access to the best thinking and practices on those topics. As information has become ubiquitous, it’s almost impossible to sustain an advantage based on intellectual ideas.

However, one simple, reliable, and virtually free competitive advantage remains – team health. Healthy teams all but eliminate politics and confusion from their cultures. As a result, productivity and morale soar, and good people almost never leave. For those leaders who are a bit skeptical, rest assured that none of this is touchy-feely or soft. It is as tangible and practical as anything else…and even more important.

Even the smartest team will eventually fail if it is unhealthy. But a healthy team will find a way to succeed. Without politics and confusion, it will become smarter and tap into all of the intelligence and talent it has.

Team health requires real work and discipline, maintained over time, and the courage to objectively confront problems hindering true team achievement. Leaders must confront themselves, their peers, and the dysfunction within their teams with honesty and persistence. Persistent leaders walk into uncomfortable situations and address issues that prevent them from realizing the potential that eludes them.

Four Disciplines

To get healthy, leaders need to take four simple, but difficult, steps:

  1. Build a cohesive leadership team. Get the leaders of the organization to behave in a functional, cohesive way. If the people responsible for running a team, department, or organization are behaving in dysfunctional ways, then that dysfunction will cascade down and prevent organizational health. And yes, there are concrete steps a leadership team can take to prevent this.
  1. Create clarity. Ensure that the members of that leadership team are intellectually aligned around simple but critical questions. Leaders need to be clear on topics such as why the organization exists and what the most important priority is for the next few months, and eliminate any gaps between them   Then people who work one, two, or three levels below have clarity about what they should do to make the organization successful.
  1. Overcommunicate clarity. After the first two steps (behavioral and intellectual alignment), leaders can take the third step: over-communicating. Leaders of healthy organizations constantly repeat themselves and reinforce what is true and important. They err on the side of saying too much, rather than too little.
  1. Reinforce clarity. Leaders use simple human systems to reinforce clarity in answering critical questions. They custom design any process that involves people from hiring and firing to performance management and decision-making to support and emphasize the uniqueness of the organization.

Healthy teams get better at meetings. Without making a few simple changes to the way meetings happen, a team will struggle to maintain its health. Healthy teams rarely fail. When politics, ambiguity, dysfunction, and confusion are reduced to a minimum, people are empowered to design products, serve customers, solve problems, and help one another. Healthy teams recover from setbacks, attract the best people, and create exciting opportunities. People are happier, the bottom line is stronger, and executives are at peace when they know they’ve fulfilled their most important responsibility: creating a culture of success.

Applying the principles of great performance is hard, but the effects of deliberate practice are cumulative. The more of a head start you get in developing people, the more difficult it will be for competitors to catch you.

–Jeff Wolf

Contact us today to discuss how we can partner together to help develop and grow your leaders and teams: jeff@wolfmotivation.com, 858-638-8260 or www.wolfmotivation.com

Follow Jeff on Twitter: @JeffWolfUSA

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What is Communication?

The following is a guest post by John Klymshyn. What is Communication? first appeared in Wolf in the Workplace, the newsletter of Wolf Management Consultants, LLC.

How would you define communication? Many of us relate this to “Getting my point across” or: “Making sure that someone understands what I am trying to say”. Isn’t it interesting that we tend to view the process as one-sided, and that the information is only going in one direction? This is the definition of broadcasting, not communication. Our definition of communication is:
The positive, progressive, exchange of ideas.

If we want to communicate with someone, we need to be willing to listen to what this person has to say. And I mean really listen. One of the habits that gets us into trouble and prevents the positive, progressive, exchange of ideas is that when we think we have heard enough, we start to talk. What we don’t realize is that when we talk over someone else, we are telling that person that what he or she has to say is not important. Put yourself in one of the following situations, and think about what the result would be if you cut someone off before they finished talking:

  • In a meeting with your boss
  • When presenting to a new customer
  • While talking with a child

Now, if any of those folks were made to feel that what they have to say is not important to you, how would that effect the future of your relationship together? Let’s bring it even closer to home. When was the last time someone interrupted you when you were speaking? How did that make you feel?

Here are some important concepts to remember in order for us to be strong communicators:

First, people buy based on emotion. If I feel comfortable with you, I am more likely to accept your idea, proposal, or guidance. Look at the above list of scenarios. How relevant is this idea to your succeeding in any or all of those settings?

Second, the last eight words that anyone says carry the emotional impact of their message. This teaches us two things. One is: We must allow people to finish, in order to have people feel comfortable in expressing to us what is on their mind. The other: People tend to work out their thoughts, feelings, and ideas by talking.

There is a small but very powerful word that begins more sentences in the English language than any other, and that word is “I”. I am the most fascinating subject on earth, to me. I wonder how many readers of this article feel the same way about themselves? What are the chances that your customer or employee feels the same way?

It is of paramount importance that we conduct conversations and communicate according to the 80/20 Rule. In theory, that means we listen 80% of the time, and respond 20% of the time. Note that 20% of the job is not to talk, or sell, but to respond.

Here’s the boiled-down version of this logic. If the last eight words that anyone says carry the emotional impact of what that person has on his or her mind, and if most people buy based on how they feel, this gives us great insight into how to communicate effectively. In order to manage, persuade, or simply move a conversation one step closer to a win, we need to ask questions, and motivate people to get them talking about themselves (how they buy, what they believe, and how they feel about what we are proposing). This information is so powerful, that after using it for just a few months, I was gaining more sales, and getting along better at home. As a matter of fact, my kids were selling me ideas. Instead of asking me yes or no questions, they would propose an idea, and then ask me, “How does that sound?” or “What do you think about that, Dad?” What a difference.

In closing, communication is a skill, which implies that it can be learned. Since it can be learned, it follows that there are correct and incorrect approaches.

 

AMA Playbook 7 Steps to Improving Nonverbal Communication – AMA Playbook

The esteemed American Management Association has published an article written by yours truly. How exciting. I hope you’ll go take a look at AMA Playbook.

If a handshake can communicate so much, that’s indicative of the need to pay attention to all areas of nonverbal communication. The question then becomes: How do you improve your nonverbal communication skills as you listen to and speak with others?

Step 1: Watch yourself . . . and others. When communicating, focus on the use of your body. The goal is to increase the expressive nature of your body, when appropriate, without being overdramatic. Be aware that gestures are often more useful with groups, such as in meetings and presentations. If a person’s words fail to match his or her nonverbal cues, it‘s best to trust the nonverbal messages. Listen with your eyes. In most cases, the nonverbal message is more accurate.

 

AMA Playbook 7 Steps to Improving Nonverbal Communication – AMA Playbook.

What “Shark Tank” teaches about the importance of communication skills

The following post excerpt appears in its entirety on Smart Blog on Leadership.

If you’re like me (a management consultant, executive coach, speaker, author and a self-confessed “Shark Tank” junkie), you’re fascinated by the program’s seemingly limitless ideas brought to life by inspired businesspeople. And, you’re doubly fascinated by the number of contestants who fail to adequately prepare for their chance of a lifetime to receive investment money and mentoring from one or more of the sharks, all of them either multi-millionaire or billionaire entrepreneurs.

I can’t help but equate the failure of so many contestants on “Shark Tank” with the poor communication skills that businesspeople often exhibit. You have to wonder if some “Shark Tank” contestants have worked in organizations where its leaders are terrible at communicating. Where else would they pick up those poor habits?

Read the rest of my guest post here: What “Shark Tank” teaches about the importance of communication skills SmartBlogs.