How to Incorporate Humor in the Workplace

Chapter 8 Lead With Love Pg’s 186-188 By Gerry Czarnecki

 There is no formula for incorporating humor into your business. You, your organization, and the individuals who work there are unique. Therefore, the First step is to make a personal assessment of your own humor quotient. Ask friends and family to give you an honest assessment of your “fun factor.” How and when do you most readily exhibit your humor? Use their feedback to determine ways in which you will feel at ease expressing your sense of fun and lightheartedness. If you are truly “humor-impaired,” seek a mentor to help uncover your sense of humor. Look for humor in everyday situations, as well as in reading material and interactions with others. Compile a humor library of jokes, quotes, cartoons, bumper stickers, articles, and stories that make you laugh. In moments of stress, take time to read one of the items again and share it with your staff. The result of your humor will not only be a pleasure for your associates, it will help you to release tension and maintain a positive attitude.

 The next step is to assess your associates’ personalities and the level of humor they currently display in the workplace. Consider what type of humor will be well-received within the organization. Wearing a clown nose to a staff meeting might not garner laughs; but breaking the ice by telling a joke on yourself could set the group at ease. Gentle, self deprecating humor is a way to demonstrate to others you are human.

 By showing you don’t take yourself too seriously, others will feel more relaxed and comfortable expressing themselves in your presence. Establishing your own precedent for humor is essential, as you must lead by example. You can’t expect your associates to embrace humor if you don’t exhibit that behavior yourself. The individual personalities of your associates will be affected by your attitude as a leader, and their attitudes are likely to mirror your own. A funny, quick-witted associate will eventually save the jokes for after hours if you frown or fail to laugh along with the others. A shy, quiet associate is likely to lighten up and become more spirited if you display a sense of humor and participate in the fun. Fun doesn’t function if it is not shared. This means that your personal commitment to the benefits of humor, and your own pleasure in sharing it, must be genuine. If you connect with your associates on a human level (and love them), you will instinctively want to celebrate their successes, share kind words, and alleviate tension. You will enjoy your role as a leader, and it will be evident in your attitude. As a result, you will elicit great attitudes and loyalty from your associates. If you feel isolated and lonely at the top, then your abilities as a leader will be severely compromised. #e fun factor is not just for your team’s benefit; it is for yours as well.

 The attitudes and environment in your organization cannot be changed in a day. It takes time and should be approached in increments. Consider your typical routine as well as your staff’s. In what ways can you introduce a surprise to break up the routine and make it a more pleasant place to work for everyone involved? If you have a weekly staff meeting in the conference room, consider holding it in a variety of different places. Invite the staff to meet at a local restaurant; when the weather is nice, set up chairs or blankets and sit outside. You can bring bagels to a morning meeting, or choose a different associate each week to order in a surprise snack for the team. If the group has to work especially late one evening to meet a deadline, send them all home with gift certificates for pizza delivery as a way to show your appreciation.

 Demonstrating your appreciation can take many forms, and the more creative you are, the more fun it will be. At Playfair, Weinstein likes to express his thanks by having flowers delivered anonymously to an associate. The accompanying note tells the recipient he or she is appreciated and should pass the flowers on in a half hour to a coworker he or she appreciates in kind. Such gestures are not expensive or grandiose, but they promote positive feelings and attitudes.

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