Saturday, March 17, 2012

Leadership Series - Part XI - Make Sure It Is Enjoyable

Let's face it!  We are at work more hours during our careers than we are awake at home.  If we work 8 hours a day, take an hour for lunch and commute for an hour and if we get the 8 hours of sleep we are supposed to be getting, that means there are only 6 hours left at home. And the 6 hours we spend at home are not our best hours because we are tired from working (but that's another story).  So if we are at work that much for 35 years or so, we damn well better enjoy it.

We are at work for a reason. We have a job to do and there are certain expectations of us. But everyone has a little down time, even at work. Or, at least they should. If not, there is something seriously wrong. It could be that we are not working smart enough. It could be that there is just too much work to do and if that is the case, it is time to look for another job. It could be that our career is our life or we are using our career to cover for other things. For purposes of this little essay, I am going to assume a normal 8 hour a day career.

We don't have to like our colleagues but we should respect them and hopefully, we are working in an environment where we can have a little fun. In my opinion, keeping your head down and focusing on work for the entire time you are at the office is going to be far less productive than if you enjoy yourself there. There is nothing wrong with the odd practical joke at work as long as no one is offended by it. I have already talked about the importance of walking around and getting to know people. It is great to hear a little laughter in the workplace occasionally. It is much easier to come to work, in my opinion, when the mood is light. The work will still get done and probably more effectively.

We used to have team building sessions occasionally. Year end was always an extremely busy time of year, involving a lot of stress and overtime and a team building event always followed the closure of the year. I call it an "event" because they were meant to put the staff in a situation that required interaction that would be fun and figuratively, about as far away from work as we could get. One year we went on a river cruise for an afternoon. But there wasn't much interaction. The same little groups that socialized at work did the same on the boat. Then one year I decided to have a picnic at a beach where we could play volleyball and mingle a bit more.

What really made it successful was the request that everyone bring water guns. Most did and they came in all shapes and sizes. We had our picnic and then the water guns came out. There was more laughter among the staff that day and yours truly came home soaked. It was something people laughed about for weeks and the following year it was back by popular demand. The only difference was that the water guns got bigger each year.

The atmosphere in the office starts with the boss. If the boss doesn't enjoy his or her job and lets that show, it is not going to be a good environment to work in. If the boss is grouchy, there is a good chance the entire section will be grouchy. Everyone has personal problems from time to time, but it is how we deal with and express our problems that makes the difference. And let's face another fact. No one really cares about your problems; they care about their own. So keep them to yourself and deal with them on your own time. They serve no purpose being dragged into the workplace. Maintain a good disposition at work and others will do the same.

I am a firm believer in enjoying your time in the workplace while getting the work done. There are times to put your nose to the grindstone to make ensure the work is done effectively and efficiently. That is satisfying in itself. But there are also times to come up for air and enjoy the people around you. It relieves the stress, people are more willing to go that extra mile without being asked and it sure makes it easier to get up in the mornings. I can honestly say I have enjoyed my time at work throughout my career and if you can say that, you will be much more satisfied and your life will be just that much more complete.    


  1. Barry, I've had experience of not enjoying my work (in other companies previously) and it was torture. I'd wake up dreading going to work, grumble and whine about the slightest crop-up, then go home dreading going to work the next day. I could imagine how horrid it was to be around me then! Finding a job/career we love is precious. Enjoying our time working despite the difficulties is one of the biggest blessings we could possibly have.


  2. I agree completely, Claudine. We are fortunate to have work we enjoy.