Scheduling Formal Fun June 12, 2009Posted by Chuck Musciano in Leadership.
Tags: Leadership, Management Skills, Morale, Teams
When I inherited my current team, they had gone through an exercise in self-management wherein they formed various committees to address and improve different aspects of their work life. These teams looked into things like meeting etiquette, time management, and internal training. Many of these teams identified a problem, solved it, and eventually disbanded. But one team, the most important one, has lasted for years. That team is the Fun Committee.
All of our people work hard, especially in these times of tight budgets. Long hours, tough projects, and high expectations put our people under stress that can tear a team apart. The best way to alleviate that stress is to blow off some steam and have some fun with your coworkers. My group thinks that this is so important that it cannot be left to chance. Thus the Fun Committee was born, to make sure we have fun on a regular basis.
It may seem odd to formally schedule something that should happen spontaneously. But if you don’t plan to have fun, you rarely will. We get so caught up in our jobs that we won’t take time to relax a bit and enjoy each other’s company.
The events planned by the Fun Committee are not elaborate. They provide a collective birthday cake each month, which takes all of thirty minutes. There is typically an annual Halloween costume contest in the fall, and a Strawberry Festival each spring. There are occasional unannounced events, drawing everyone to the break room for some small treat on the spur of the moment.
Even though these events are small, they bring our whole group together for a specifically non-business event. We socialize a bit, celebrate the moment as needed, and return to our work a bit more energized. We’ve come to expect these events, and they are a positive component of our team culture.
Most teams enjoy getting together and having these moments, but many groups never seem to make them happen. Without a formal approach to scheduling fun, time slips away and the events never occur. People regret not doing more with their group, but rarely act to change things.
I didn’t create the Fun Committee, but I have certainly come to appreciate what they do and I’d hate to see the Fun Committee disband. That’s the best part: the committee is self-sustaining. People stay on for a period of time and then rotate off, to be replaced by others. The committee manages this process, and I’ve never been called on to keep the team alive. It is truly on its own, sustained by the common desire to keep that social bond strong in the group.
As leaders, team morale is as much our responsibility as anything else. How do you build and maintain morale in your group? Do you have a Fun Committee? Do you need one?