You’re Here to Work, Not Play!

“You’re here to work, not to play!” my boss scowled when I cracked a joke or laughed in one organization. I’ve also worked in organizations where people laughed and joked as they worked.

My experience has been that when people are laser focused on the task at hand, they do indeed accomplish that task. But they are not as creative – their focus prevents them from thinking outside of the parameters of the problems that they’re trying to solve. And while they can take pride in their tangible accomplishments (one more deadline met), they lack deeper connectedness to their team and their organization. They feel more like human cogs in a big machine, where their worth is measured solely by their output. They don’t try to go above and beyond.

By contrast, when people are relaxed enough to laugh with each other, their creativity is unleashed. They come up with novel ideas. These workers also know how to meet deadlines, and laugh together as they do so. They’re part of a team. They make work fun. And in the long run, I think they get more done.

Does this matter? Which organization style do you think will be able to attract and retain the best workers? Which organization style do you think will produce better results?

What has been your experience?

Gary Langenwalter

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