I have been reading the latest book by Ricardo Semler, and amongst the many themes it has reminded me of is the one of making work fun.
It is so easy for work to become tedious, the same old round of meetings, discussions, decisions, actions, email clearing etc. This problem is intensified for us as leaders, because not only do we suffer from it, we also have the people who work for us suffering from it as well.
Of course all the tedious things have to be done – well, some of them anyway. But that doesn’t mean that we have to find them tedious. We can choose to scatter rewards for ourselves in amongst the boring tasks – a walk, a quite cup of coffee, a chat with someone, and a job we really want to do.
We can also check out that list of tedious jobs. Are they all really necessary? We often develop a set of routines that are habit rather than necessity, and a check once in a while on the purpose of what we are doing may lead us to remove the task from our list.
Some of the things we do are because we don’t trust people enough. We give them things to do, then check that they know they have to do it, then ask them to report on their progress at regular intervals, and sometimes we still do some of it ourselves because we are not sure that they will do it right.
So how about daring to trust others to get on with things. You may come across the odd failure’ if you do this, but weigh that against the time and effort you could save!
And this brings us to how you can offset the dangers of boredom in your people. One way is to trust them to do something. When we have full responsibility for something, it tends to be more inspiring than when we are given detailed task lists.
Another way is to dare to allow them to manage their boredom themselves. In the same way that you will function better and achieve more if you make work more fun for yourself, your people will make their day work better and produce more, if given permission to do so.
Semler talks about treating people as grown-ups. It requires trusting people to be responsible, and to achieve while giving them the freedom to make their work life work for them as individuals. It might sound risky, but doesn’t it also sound like common sense?