An office party

Why we should play more in business

Sadly, unless you are very lucky, everyone is going to have to work for a living.

Now, work is often viewed as a necessary evil, something to endure rather than enjoy (it’s even evident in my opening line!), but this doesn’t always have to be the case.

Your business doesn’t always have to be all work and no play, in fact if it is you may be missing a trick. If work is more fun, more will actually get done!

The Human Touch

Leadership is about people, and that goes both ways.

Not only do you have to view your team as real human beings (because they are), they also have to see you as one!

No one wants to be the big scary boss who people are too scared to talk to.

It’s about allowing yourself to be exactly that, yourself, rather than the person you think you should be. And if you’re anything like me, the real you wants to have a laugh and enjoy going to work every day.

And guess what, it’s the same for everyone else too!

I remember when I was a police officer, I had a boss who was not into laughter. She wanted us to “get on with it!” and not to be seen chatting or singing or messing around, so to speak. 

But that was where I am the team thrived – releasing pressure, creating fun and therefore enjoying our job, that was often difficult and depressing.

So, as a leader, if you allow your team to see that human side of you, whilst expressing their own, your workplace if going to be a much nicer place to be.

When people feel like they can let loose a little and be themselves, this opens up the door for more playfulness and, in turn, creativity and productivity.

And of course, that means a better business.

I mean who doesn’t want that?

The Proof

But you don’t just have to take my word for it, there have been studies too!

Studies like the one published in the Journal of Vocational Behaviour that found a link between informal learning and fun.

This means that a good atmosphere will create a better learning environment meaning people will pick up skills better, thus improving job performance

So, if work is personable and fun, you are opening the door for your team to get more creative in trying new things and worrying less about mistakes (something that can hold them, and the business back!).

The Myth

Sadly, there seems to be this horrible idea surrounding work, that having fun and being able to play around with work and business is somehow a distraction.

I think it’s time that narrative shifted to the 21st century, in which this has been proven not only untrue but, in fact, the complete reverse of the reality!

Fun breeds optimism (no surprises there), but it also helps improve resilience and attention, not to mention bring people together!

The more collaborative an environment is the faster people are likely to learn too.

It’s really like one big domino effect. Create a playful environment in work and you knock down issues like stress, lack of productivity, lack of creativity and poor engagement.

Come As You Are

You know that whole American thing of ‘Bring Your Child to Work’ days, well I’m not suggesting that by any means, but maybe we could tweak it a little.

How about, ‘Bring Yourself to Work’?

And why limit it to just one day?

Bring yourself (your real self) to work every day!

It’s far less hassle than bringing a child or, for that matter, bringing in that act of whatever you feel a “leader” should act like!

Remember, you are a leader, whether you like it or not so the way a leader acts is as simple as how you choose to act.

And by bringing yourself you are also bringing along opportunity.

The opportunity to:

  • Form better relationships – meaning better growth and more success.
  • Build a strong social network – meaning better team performance and more fulfilled employees.
  • Bring in personality, both when you speak, but also into how you listen to and engage with your team

But How?

If that hasn’t been the case in a business for some time, it can feel a bit odd to suddenly bring fun and laughter, or your human side into the business.

People might find it strange if they are being asked to be more themselves, or feel uncomfortable, as might you.

But persevere and you will create a new norm.

You will start to find that behaviour breeds behaviour, and that people will feel more comfortable if they feel it is safe to be themselves.

If you think this makes sense to you but are not sure how to bring that back into your team (without having to resort to team building days and jumping off logs etc) then give me a call.

If you fancy having a little fun with your team, get in touch at julie@thinkbedoleadership.com and we can have a play and see what we can do! Or check in with what I have been up to recently here.

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