The Amazing Power of Fun

It seems that each and every day we are fed a healthy diet of negative news from the media: companies are laying off workers, we are experiencing the worst recession since the dawn of man, global warming is melting the planet, war, famine, poverty, healthcare, taxes are going up etc. All of this instability and negative news is enough to make you want to pull the covers over your head and just stay in bed.

Of course, these events are very real, and sadly, they impact some worse than others. Yet, despite all of these problems, no – because of all of the negative things going on in society we must find meaning, joy and happiness wherever we can, so why not at work?

It’s my hypothesis that happy employees are the X-Factor helping businesses to thrive. When we are having fun, we tend to have more energy and are therefore better equipped to handle difficult tasks, overcome obstacles, and accomplish more. So you see, fun and happiness not only benefit the individual, but they also make for good business. Just ask yourself this question, would you rather spend time at a wedding or a funeral?

Energy, both positive and negative is very contagious. Therefore, let’s commit right here, and right now to start a grass-roots movement by eradicating boredom and gloom in the workplace. How? Let’s start by shielding out the negativity, staying positive, faking it until you make it and embracing the joy manifesto:

The joy manifesto:

• Smile – It has been scientifically proven in controlled studies that simply smiling long enough can actually make you feel happy. You can read more about this phenomenon in this HBS Article:

• Abide by the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would like to be treated

• Apply more carrot and less stick – is anyone ever really motivated by the stick?

• Pay it forward – Hold the door, bring someone coffee, call an old friend, help a customer with a difficult problem, help motivate others.

• Don’t complain – Focus instead on what’s right and build from there

• Don’t worry be happy – “Bobby McFerrin”

Some events are beyond our control, but we can control how we choose to react to them. Search for the fun, stay positive, and enjoy the amazing power of fun and profit in your life.

Do you have any examples, large or small of injecting fun in the workplace to share?

Compensation, Behavior, and Business Growth

Comp and Behavior

I’ve heard it so often stated that compensation drives behavior. It makes obvious sense doesn’t it? Then why do so many businesses overlook this very important fact when designing pay programs?

Three reasons: 1. It’s hard to manage and measure 2. Additional operational expense. 3. An unstated belief that everyone should do the right thing regardless of compensation.

Here is my response to those challenges.: 1. Clearly define outcomes and model it into software and 2. Any task worth doing is worth doing well 3. Some will rise to the occasion, in the short-term, but if this additional workload becomes the norm in the long-term without compensation, then it will only serve to undermine morale.

It is my belief that businesses must take the more challenging path of aligning compensation with desired behavior in order to survive and thrive in the end. An organization that follows this path will likely attract higher quality employees who are motivated by a reward for extra effort. However, more importantly, from a customer’s perspective, this organization will be more desirable to do business with given their better service and focus on satisfaction. These two results – more satisfied employees and happier customers – will most likely enhance the company’s bottom line with more sales and profits.

What do you think?

Memorable Interaction

Quick – Think of the most memorable interactions you have had with a business greater than three years ago. Chances are, a negative experience immediately came to mind. Why? According to this article in Time, there are 2 reasons for this. 1. Survival instincts – touching fire is bad and 2. Strong emotions have a more lasting imprint on your memory. Anger is definitely a strong response, but I would also add disappointment to the list of strong emotional and memorable responses as well. I definitely remember how disappointed I was in Santa for bringing me a “Sit & Spin” for Christmas while he brought my brother the “Big Wheel” I had always wanted.

The point is that since anger and disappointment are so easily etched into our memories and seem to last forever, we have to work doubly hard to make sure that we don’t anger and disappoint our customers. Treat problems as opportunities to do the right thing and avoid being cast aside by your customers. Ignoring customer problems will eventually hit your bottom line, and not in a good way. Let’s not forget that!