Reclaiming Our Fun

After my webinar on Building a High-Functioning team, I received a whole lot of feedback from participants saying thank-you for the reminder to have fun. 

This really caught me off guard.  How in the world did we end up so focused on our goals (also a part of building a great team) that we completely let go of the fun part?  Now, I know, some teams have this nailed. Usually the ones featured in hip glossy magazines foosball tables on every floor and ball-pit conference rooms.  But what about the rest of us? Those of us who work in an average office, or whose company name no one may recognize, let alone be jealous of?

I wish I had an answer on how it slipped away, but rather than dwelling in the past, let’s start with today.  Here’s the deal.  Don’t lose sight of the importance of fun in building an exceptional team.  A team is made up of people, and if all those people do is work hard, get more work on their desk, collect a pay check, and go on their own vacations, your team is destined for mediocrity.

Here are some other ideas from real organizations to get you started:

  • A firm with no real office (but 20 employees) meets for a nice lunch every week.
  • An internal team plays pranks on each other whenever someone is out of the office for a few days or longer.
  • A large firm gives employees a day off each summer to participate in all-day fun with activities including horseback riding, kayaking, golf, spa treatments, etc. Each person can choose their own itinerary but they all end at the same place for a late lunch and group activities.
  • A division at a mid-size firm gives out mock-awards to team members highlighting their contributions to the organization beyond typical metrics (e.g. Most Gallons of Coffee Consumed, Most Creative Task Delegated to an Intern, Perfect Attendance at Free Meals)

If you do have some fun-itiatives in your office, give yourself a big pat on the back! Your team has it good, and you are getting benefits from this.  Be sure you have enough though, if your idea of checking the Fun box involves a singular ill-attended annual picnic, think again. 

Try assigning an individual (call them the “Minister of Fun”) or small committee (dub them the “Culture Club”) to own the fun side of building a great team.  Give them a budget and your genuine, ongoing support, and you’ll be on your way to team success.

Lastly, please be sure to pass this article around so I can receive new feedback the next time I run this workshop, knowing that we all have put some more Fun in High-Functioning teams between now and then.