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Can we have fun while doing serious work?

Have you ever noticed how slow time passes when you are in a troubled environment?  Conversely, sometimes you look up at the end of a great day and wonder where the time went.

It’s driven from the top

Over the years, I have discovered that the difference is not just applicable to the good times, but to the environment, created by the senior executives, that filters throughout the organization.  Every time, a corporate work culture encouraging humor causes employees to enjoy their work, spend more time with associates, and laugh many more times through the day.

One of my most memorable stories about workplace fun

At one point in our mutual careers, my brother located his growing architectural practice just a mile from my record company in West Hollywood, California.  I would visit his office and immediately notice an atmosphere of “joyous creativity” throughout the organization.  Every cubicle was decorated with whimsical drawings, posters, kid’s creativity, and more.  As I walked through the facility, I could hear laughter emanating from cubicles, almost constant as a background song of simple joy at work.

[Email readers, continue here…]  Those visits were wonderful times to recharge my batteries, and I was not even a part of the company.  Imagine how they affected the attitude and creativity of those working there.  Think of how clients loved to associate with their counterparts in such an environment.

It’s not easy to create and maintain such a workplace

Try as I could to reproduce such an environment, my company was too spread out, the background noises of manufacturing too loud to make the same environment possible.  The best I could do was touch individuals and small groups with that same joy of the journey, adding humorous opportunities for lightening up as often as possible.

But after all these years, I will never forget the magic of that architectural office, and how much everyone there wanted not to let it ever slip away.

Take every opportunity to lighten up, to ease the often-self-imposed pressures of constant work, to unlock more of the creativity of your workforce through the use of appropriate humor.  What a lift that brings.

  • Don Kasle

    Dave — Great Article. As a former CEO (of 3 different banking organizations), I had a number of procedures in place to try to create that “fun atmosphere” you are referencing. {Notice I did not say “rules” or “policies” — but rather “procedures.”) First, we spent both time and money celebrating our successes. I made it a point to always be there to support whatever department(s) were having a celebration. Second, we went out of our way to publicly “catch people doing something right” (to quote the One Minute Manager). Third, we encouraged creativity and enterprise by allowing and encouraging our staff (never called them “employees) to take charge of implementing tasks and activities. Finally, and it was a little point, but set an important tone — no one of our 1,200 staff members was allowed to call me Mr. Kasle. It was always “Don” regardless of the level of the staff member. Needless to say, none of the other senior staff members went by last names either — setting a more collegial environment. Something had to work right, because when I was CEO of the Dayton, Ohio affiliate of Bank One, of the 8 Large Bank Affiliates in Bank One Corporation, we were the top performing bank 5 years in a row. I think our culture helped insure that record achievement.

  • Kelli Nakayama

    I couldn’t agree more – it is so energizing to work amongst colleagues that you enjoy being around and can share a few laughs together each day. In addition to creativity, that type of environment fosters trust, collaboration, and all-around job satisfaction. Thank you for reminding us to lighten it up from time to time!

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