Kindergarten had some basic rules, and every business can benefit from remembering some of those simple guidelines. NAOMI SIMSON
By Naomi Simson
It might sound basic, but one of the key questions I get asked is how do we get people to have fun and be extremely productive at work. What keeps the workplace interesting, people motivated and most importantly make it a fun place to be.
Sometimes it is the simplest things that make the difference. As the leadership team goes, so goes the rest of the team… Are they having fun together? Are they authentic and real in their communications?
Years ago I was given a book from a university friend, All I Really Need to Know I Learnt in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. This applies at work too; share everything, play, be aware of wonder, hold hands and stick together – my bet is that we’d all manage to stay much more motivated at work and therefore intent on staying.
While what you are about to read might sound like common sense, it doesn’t hurt to reflect on the simple things in life that made our younger years so memorable.
Share everything: When I was in corporate life I regularly heard “we need to improve our communication”. Imagine knowing where and when you are, and in communication with whom. We have a clearly defined, daily huddle schedule, weekly team meetings, one-on-ones, monthly company meetings and planning sessions – the agenda has three items; what is working, not working, and where are you stopped. A problem shared is a problem halved and in most cases solved. This way the exercise creates stability, cohesion and transparency.
Play: However silly it might sound, games are really useful tools to keep people focused. We are all children at heart and appealing to this is an easy way to keep staff engaged. RedBallooners are rewarded with RedBalloon points for the following: A “Simmering Sales Suggestion” (new lead), “Rocket Launcher” (we are a growing business and we need to keep asking what we should stop doing, what we should start doing and what should we continue doing) and the “Firecracker Award” (for continually demonstrating RedBalloon values).
We have noticed a real melding between what was the work week and the weekend; the distinction is becoming more blurred. It is a challenge for employers to make the work week as interesting as the weekend. Last year we entered a RedBalloon team into the Bridge to Beach swimming race, and this year we are about to enter a new team into the Blackmores marathon; everyone will be sure to get involved in our training activities.
Be aware of wonder: Look and listen to colleagues, and when something amazing happens, celebrate it. We all achieve great things in our roles everyday, yet most employers fail to acknowledge when we do go above and beyond the call of duty. It’s very easy to forget, especially in the current employment market, that most people have a choice about where they decide to spend 30-plus hours a week.
Recognising people is actually very straightforward and goes a long way to keep us motivated. Whether you opt for peer-to-peer recognition, customer feedback or more traditional management discretion, making sure that you have ample opportunity for formal and reward-backed “thank you” and “good effort” celebrations – a key to keeping people engaged and happy.
Hold hands and stick together: I always remember the times that I was the newbie – quite often a very nerve-wracking time. The sooner someone feels part of something, connected to their colleagues, the vision of what we are up to, the sooner that attachment is possible. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if at three o’clock every afternoon we all sat down to milk and cookies?
Whether it is a regular team lunch, beers after work or something more unusual like a group circus lesson, cooking class or hypnosis show, doing something as a group that is totally unrelated to what we do at work allows us to reconnect as human beings. The levelling effects of watching the top sales person get nervous at the trapeze or highly skilled programmer fail to toss a pancake is great for team morale.
So what I learned in kindergarten applies just as much now as it did then…
“Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush.
“Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.”
From a business perspective, we cannot afford to rely on large salary packages and bonuses to persuade people to come on board with the company. Clever companies, small and big alike, are realising that you have to capture the hearts and minds of employees – no amount of money will keep them long term.
It’s OK to have fun in business.
Naomi Simson is the founder and CEO (Chief Experiences Officer) of RedBalloon Days, Naomi is passionate about pleasure! Backed by enthusiasm, energy and drive and recently named one of Australia’s best bosses (Australia’s Marketing Employer of Choice), the Entrepreneurs Organisation (Sydney Chapter) President 2007 – 2008 and mother of two, Naomi also inspires others as a regular speaker, writes a blog and has recently completed her first book . To read more Naomi Simson blogs, click here .