Monday, July 30, 2007

It is really OK to laugh at work!

One of the biggest disappointments in my NHS career was the lack of humour and how we always had to have that 'stiff upper lip' that typifies Britain in many ways. It certainly typifies the business world of the public services that I knew.

I've never believed using humour lessens professionalism. I say it is not compulsory to be miserable at work.

Anyway .... in sorting through old papers in the move I came across something that we did back in my NHS days that still makes me laugh … why can’t we do more of this in management?

A friend and I in a mad moment decided we would write out to people who had been on a seminar/workshop for the morning asking for their feedback. We sent it in the name of the Chief Executive.

A few people responded and played the game but most people just ignored it without comment.

What a shame …. We really need to lighten up in management.

This is it... I'd love your comments

Dear Colleague

As part of the continuing professional development we have introduced a new feedback system following away days/seminars and teaching sessions to ensure that learning has taken place.

As a result a few people are randomly selected at the end of each session to answer a few simple questions to assure the organisers that learning has occurred.

I hope you don’t mind filling in this short questionnaire and your honesty will be appreciated.

Bill Bloggs (name changed to protect the innocent)
Chief Executive


1 Did you find your way to the venue ok?
2 Was the coffee good? (tea if you drink tea)
3 Was the room comfortable or would you have preferred somewhere with Sky Sports TV?
4 Did you think the standard of dress of delegates was good enough to maintain the professional image of the organisation?
5 Did you fall asleep in any of the presentations? – We need you to name names
6 Do you think it would have helped if jokes had been part of the meeting?
7 Were you able to make the dolls house out of balsa wood without copying your friend?
8 How would you sum up the experience?
9 Could you have benefited from a lady of the night?
10 Was it worth missing out on bacon rolls back at the office?
11 Whilst you were looking through the window (we know you did), did you think the groundsman could have made a better job of the hedges with a Black and Decker 3200?


Dan said...

Trevor - that's brilliant! Oh, how I wish I'd thought of it! I promise that from now on, when I give a presentation or a seminar, I'll follow your example and hand out a survey with funny questions on it.

Oh, it's such a cool idea. Thanks!

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Dan - no copyright my friend - share it with the world- we need to have more fun at work don't you think?!

Nick McCormick said...

Right on the money. We could all use a bit more levity at the office. Unfortunately there are so many things that can bring us down. The manager that can reduce the severity and length of the emotional valleys and inspire peaks via humor will benefit tremendously from the results that follow - increases in productivity, innovation, etc. Your idea is certainly a way to do just that.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Nick - it is up to all of us indivually to rattle the cage for humor :-)

Rocky said...

Work can often be very serious. It is necessary to have breaks by injecting some humor. All work and no play will make us very dull indeed. Good stuff.

Trevor Gay said...

Tell you bosses Rocky :-)

David Wike said...

Trevor, I may have recounted this story to you previously. It is an amusing memory from my brief time in a marketing department. My desk was adjacent to the advertising department. One day several of the girls from advertising were involved in assembling the artwork for a campaign – these things always seem to be last minute panics, so lots of pressure.

Your overseas readers may not be familiar with the children’s TV programme Blue Peter. Suffice to say that it has been famous over the years for making things from glue and left-over household items. Oh, and they always had a pet dog.

Our advertising ladies had obviously grown up with Blue Peter and realised the similarities between the programme’s activities and what they were doing, so decided that a bit of role play would improve the day. They even made themselves name badges for the various characters, including the dog! I have to say that it was an hilarious hour or so for us onlookers, including the head of marketing who was also located close by. However, I’m not entirely sure that Steve realised that he had been cast in the role of Biddy Baxter, the programme’s producer!

Trevor Gay said...

Fabulous story David - I hope you gave them all a BLUE PETER BADGE!!

Marilyn said...

"Funny" you mention the subject of laughter at work. I just attended one of those team building sessions this week and someone brought up how we need to allow for laughter and some silliness at work.

There is another person on our team who is so dare I say 'deadly' serious it really disrupts morale at work. She's gone so far as to make a real issue of how our desks are arranged, and made sure she arranged hers so she has as little interaction with us as possible. Sad.

If we can't have a laugh at work, at least once a day, then we're taking ourselves way too seriously. Laughter reduces stress, inspires creativity, and is healthy for us. Thank you for reminding us of that.

Trevor Gay said...

Thanks Marilyn.

I’ve know a few people like your colleague – you are right - it is sad but the world is made up of all sorts. Those people behave in a way they are comfortable with I guess. Not my style but there you go. Maybe those types would be best working in an office on their own so they do not adversely influence others around them and therefore the office ‘mood.’

There are some people who walk into the room and morale immediately goes up merely by their presence, their body language and their voice tone. There are others who have the opposite effect. We all know who they are!! What a bundle of laughs it would be to work with a group of the latter types!! (Not).

I’ve been pretty fortunate in my career to have worked with many colleagues with a wonderful sense of humour and I maintain that having a laugh at work does not mean a lack of professionalism – quite the opposite in fact.

Thanks for your comment and have a ‘funny’ day!

Peter said...

I also following the same principle in my office. In the initial stage of my business I used to get tense and show it to my staffs, one day I found that how wrong I was, from then on I never get tense and pass it to my staffs. Now, in my office everyone have freedom to crack jokes and to laugh louder and even we've functioning Humor-Club in our office...
Roadside Assistance Belgium

Trevor Gay said...

Keep up the good work Peter and keep smiling :-)