Work should be fun. But my idea of fun might not be the same as yours.
I love my work and split my time between several companies. If I’m not visiting them, I’m working at home in my office – often until late into the evening. I keep intending to slow down, but I enjoy it, so haven’t yet!
In my mind there is nothing better than being part of a team that is creating something that everyone (including me) thought would be impossible when we set out. It’s rewarding, satisfying, exciting – and fun.
Sometimes we get so involved in doing and measuring that we forget to experience the joy of what we produce – just as our customers experience it. Feeling the emotion is just as important as ticking all the boxes on the action list.
As an engineer there was no better place for me to work than Porsche, where the cars fill you with excitement, inside and out. But when I stepped into the hot seat, the bottom had fallen out of the market and the staff were demoralized by the signs that the business was failing. They weren’t excited about the cars – they were of the impression that our cars were for luxury market customers, not for ‘people like us’.
So, I thought ‘let them drive the cars’.
We hired a test track, a twisting, demanding circuit which is fun to drive, then following a safety briefing, invited everyone to drive a Porsche 911 Carrera – a car with more than 300 hp that will reach 60 mph in just over 4 seconds. It was fun for everybody but probably the most fun of all if you’d worked on or walked past these cars every day for many years – but never even sat inside one. The positive impact on the energy and belief of the team was instant.
I know that every business doesn’t have this kind of fun at their disposal, but it’s important to know what each member of your team considers to be fun. Whether it’s working in a motivated and inspired team to see what can be achieved or being in front of customers and ensuring each client is excited and delighted with the experience they receive.
One of my regional managers at Porsche once begged me ‘never promote me.’ He was responsible for a large part of the customer experience and was admired by his colleagues. He genuinely loved what he did and was having fun doing it. Fun doesn’t always have to be based on change.
Some people enjoy driving change and find it fun – others don’t. Some people get enjoyment from delivering something practical, others get as much fun from exploring ideas.
Fun is an essential component of creativity and hard work – research consistently shows that an engaged team, having fun, makes the process and productivity even better. But you can’t invent fun or throw it into the mix as a ‘nice extra’. The work and engagement need to be fun or people’s appetite for going the extra mile to deliver an extraordinary customer experience will be less.
The Happiness Research Institute completed a survey to find out what made employees happy at work. The result produced eight elements:
- Work-life balance
It’s interesting to note that money was the least important – you can’t bribe people to enjoy their work.
And the most important is a sense of purpose, which translates as each team member having a clear understanding of what they are setting out to achieve, and why. Then, with that clarity and understanding they can have fun delivering it.
So as a leader one of the most critical activities for you is to understand how to give your team a sense of purpose and do whatever it takes to deliver that. In return they will deliver the fun.
If you would like help to achieve this, give me a shout.