I am a HUGE believer in fun and motivating activities in the workplace. Engaged teams can move mountains! However, along the way, I've made a few mistakes in launching fun programs. So here are 5 ways I'll share about how to make fun at work a nightmare for your call center representatives:
- "You're going to have fun or else ...." Make participation mandatory where everyone is required to play. Failure to participate usually involves some nagging and shaming. This is wrong in so very many ways! First, everyone enjoys different things; don't assume one size fits all and force fun. And make sure you are not embarrassing anyone!
- "Only the top performers ever win..." Top performers should win big! They are pulling the team up and helping you meet your goals. But that doesn't mean that others on your team don't pass important development milestones. Find ways to celebrate those small wins and you will see unbelievable growth.
- "I don't even like my boss, why would I want to hang out with her after work..." You can't fix a bad work environment by suddenly throwing a lot of fun activities at it. You need to take care of the basics first. "If the trust level is low, then manufactured fake fun events are worse than tedious – they’re insulting." Liz Ryan said so eloquently in her blog post How To Have Fun At Work.
- "I feel like you are treating us like children..." I have worked in centers where almost everyone had a blast participating in the Halloween costume contest and very sad ones where 5 people showed up in costume. The big difference? It was how the management team embraced the event. Managers who won't participate because it is "unprofessional" are subtly communicating that they are the adults and their teams are the children. When you all laugh together, then it is fun for everyone.
- "I have too much work to do to play silly games..." When your reps are feeling overwhelmed it is not the time to ask them to do one more thing. Yes laughter is good for the soul when workloads are intense, but keep the time and energy required to participate appropriate to the time your team really has available. This is a good time to look for fun things you can do FOR, not with your team.
If you follow my posts you know that I prefer to focus on positive opportunities, but in this case I felt it was really important to recognize that the best intention to incorporate fun and motivating activities into your workplace can go wrong if you don't start from the right place. And that right place is creating a work environment where your team feels valued, where they feel treated fairly, where they feel like they are included. Fun won't do that for you.