C-Suite Network™

Leaders: Here is Why You Need to LIGHTEN UP

It’s no wonder that stress is at an all-time high. If the 24-hour news cycle isn’t bad enough, on the job we have to deal with downsizing, upsizing, rightsizing, mergers, acquisitions, buyouts, corporate scandals, and the list goes on and on. Not to mention, you and your team members may be facing personal issues, family issues, team conflicts, mid-life crises, work crises, the list goes on!

In our culture, if we don’t feel fantastic, we just pop a pill…  anti-depressants, sleep aids, pain meds, heartburn relief, diet pills, well, you get the picture. Pharmaceutical companies thrive on this negativity.

Sorry for being such a “Debbie Downer” — but I would like to suggest a different approach.

Here is the big idea: lighten up! Now, I know what you’re thinking — “Yeah, but Jen, you don’t know how serious my job/business/position/problem is!”
Well, I’m not suggesting goofing off all day, playing practical jokes on your co-workers, or making fun at someone else’s expense. What I am advocating is working hard, doing a good job, and enjoying yourself along the way. (Radical idea, I know.)

When you incorporate humor, fun, and celebration with your team members you may:

  • Improve customer service
  • Build trust & relationships
  • Strengthen teamwork
  • Reduce stress & conflict
  • Increase productivity
  • Improve employee retention rates
  • Boost morale
  • Increase sales
  • Improve communication
  • Improve employee engagement

Take your job seriously and take yourself lightly.

Your work may not need to be as serious as you’re making it and you may not need to be such a party pooper.

What’s that? You say that the nature of your work is too serious to bring in any kind of fun? Well, I say that’s all the more reason you NEED to bring in fun. I know folks who work in healthcare settings where they are treating cancer patients and terminally ill children. Now that can be pretty grim and depressing work — if you don’t provide opportunities to lighten things up. Their patients don’t need caregivers who are grim and depressed. Rather, they need to be around people who are upbeat and positive.

Take a tip from the Southern Louisianians. They typically need no excuse for a party. Mardi Gras, for example, provides a time for everyone to come together, forget their differences, and celebrate with a certain abandon and “joie de vivre.” Everyone you meet is festive and happy to share in the celebration, hence the common expression, laissez les bons temps roulez! (Let the good times roll.)

Leaders, YOU create the work environment.

You set the tone for what is and is not acceptable.  Why not create an environment of laissez les bons temps roulez year round? Why not create an environment where people want to come to work?

Give a booster shot to your fatigued, overworked, apathetic, unappreciative, cynical team members without spending a lot of green.

Take these tips to LIGHTEN UP your work environment:

  1. Have a Superbowl football pool
  2. Put together a competitive team of some kind — sports, trivia, etc.
  3. Have po-boys or pizza delivered for lunch
  4. Conduct a weekly drawing for prizes
  5. Give out fun awards when you “catch someone doing good,” or playful awards for doing something silly or embarrassing
  6. Hold friendly contests, (maybe riff off of one of the popular reality TV shows), with proceeds going to a charitable cause
  7. If appropriate you may even have themed dress up or dress-down days
  8. Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones

Those are just a few things you can do to introduce some lightheartedness into your work environment. Have some fun! Mais cher, laissez les bon temps roulez!

This week: What are you doing to bring a spirit of fun and lightheartedness into your organization?

Jennifer Ledet, CSP, is a leadership consultant and professional speaker (with a hint of Cajun flavor) who equips leaders from the boardroom to the mailroom to improve employee engagement, teamwork, and communication.  In her customized programs, leadership retreats, keynote presentations, and breakout sessions, she cuts through the BS and talks through the tough stuff to solve your people problem

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