Over the years, I've tried a lot of things to make work a crazy, fun, and wild place. I've tried playing rock music in the morning, having group lunches at noon, throwing parties later in the day, and arranging for sports after work. But whatever crazy thing we try, it loses its novelty after a while and people tire of it. Yeah-they're good now and then to bring your office alive, give people a chance to have some fun together, add a human face to your management style, and as another way to show people that you care about them.
Here are some specifics that you need to make sure you are doing to help ensure that their work is satisfying to the people who report to you:
- Today's workers at all levels want to know why they are doing something. Don't just say, "Drop everything you're doing and rush this shipment out." Instead, take two minutes to explain why.
- Today's workers want to work hard and have pride in their work-but they need appreciation and recognition for their contribution. Be generous with compliments.
- Today's workers want input and accessibility to their managers-but many shy away from giving input unless you make it easy for them. Small group meetings where you ask for suggestions are a good way to get people involved.
- Today's workers want to feel that their work is making a difference. Explain why their work matters. Tell them success stories about people who use your products and post press clippings on the bulletin board.
For many employees it's important to feel that they are always growing, learning, and progressing. With the few employees at small firms and flatter management structures at larger ones, it's a challenge to fulfill this need. But it's important you do-because often it's the best employees who most feel the need to learn.
Recently one of my managers pointed out to me that when I, as owner of my company, make a comment on people's work, they pay a lot of attention to it-something I tend to forget.
My experience is that about once or twice a week during working hours is the right time to spend on those silly, frivolous activities.
- Friday morning bagels.
- Friday afternoon theme parties.
- Occasional lunch outings such as mini-golf, bowling, or billiards.
- Seasonal decorations at the entrance.
- Company crosswords and contests.