Celebrating work: a case study
We spend the vast majority of our waking hours at work. For some people that’s a wonderful reality because they love what they do, and work is always fun. For others, who don’t love their work its more difficult. But for the big middle group, their experience of fun is up to the manager. But why is it important to have fun at work? We don’t pay people to have fun, right?
There are mountains of research connecting productivity to fun & celebration. Science has proven that fun at work increases work efficiency. In this case study, we look back on an interim manager whose task was to create a coherent team. Besides higher efficiency the aim was that fun should be part of the team dynamic. This team has had a rough time in the years before due to reorganisations and frequent management changes. We coached the interim manager how to change the team dynamics including the goal to make the team ‘happy’ again. Our plan was to include fun & celebration at work on a day to day basis. So what did we plan to do?
Often there is a status-bubble between the manager and their team. This creates a distance and can lead to animosity and an insecure team. Conversation between the team and management will feel uncomfortable. We helped the interim manager to break that bubble. At times he made a bit fun of himself and his management team. Just to show he’s human, he could take a joke and is just like the rest of his team. It showed people that he’s human and that joking and laughing can be good medicine for everyone.
There are tons of opportunities to celebrate different topics. And it absolutely doesn’t have to cost a lot, or anything at all. Occasions like milestones, anniversaries, big wins or any significant personal or team event can be celebrated. The point is to find genuine opportunities to share our achievements and enjoy a few smiles together as a team. The interim manager incorporated celebrations into the team culture by focusing on those opportunities.
Even though this manager wasn’t a Michelin starred chef, he knew almost everyone loves food in one way or the other. And at least everyone needs it. In most cultures it’s often a reason for celebration or fun. Even small gestures like fresh fruit, cookies or a catered lunch can create a different atmosphere, and a feeling of appreciation and celebration. So he facilitated that and even encouraged people to bring their favorite food and share.
The manager actively used all three methods to increase the amount of fun and make celebration a part of the team culture. When we met the manager a year later the team was considered productive, energetic and just a real team. The board was very happy with the result and asked the manager to help implement this new team culture to more teams within the company.
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