Mix a little foolishness with your serious plans: it's lovely to be silly at the right moment. – Horace
You have heard it before – you are at work for so much of your life, so you better enjoy it! And I would go one step further and say that you better have fun!
Of course, not every minute of every day is going to be fun. It is called work for a reason! But having a sense of humor as you tackle challenging tasks and collaborate with your team will surely help you and others get through the day with smiles on your faces.
There is a bit of an art to inserting a little bit of fun into the workplace. You do not want to be inappropriate or offensive, so learning what to say, when to say it, and who to say it to can take a little bit of practice.
Here are a few tips and observations I have learned throughout my time as a project manager on how to have fun with my coworkers.
- Build relationships – You should do this one in general, but building relationships will allow you to get to know your teammates, their personalities, and their work styles. It will also allow them to get to know you. And once you have a relationship of mutual respect and understanding, you can build onto that relationship and lighten up the work environment with a little fun.
- Always have positive intent – You always want to have fun in a way that does not harm anyone or the work that you are doing. Your humor should come from a good place, and having strong relationships with your coworkers should secure in their minds that they can trust you and the path you are leading them down. (Fun side note: The “positive intent” rule also applies to giving people feedback – you should always have the intent to help and not harm.)
- Set “fun” as a priority – Let the team know that you are there to get your work done, and to have fun while you do. Remember when I said you should have an agenda for each meeting? Well, I personally make “having fun” a priority for larger work sessions, so much so that I put “HAVE FUN!” on the slide that outlines our objectives and/or our rules of engagement. If you set the tone at the beginning, then you will be off to a good start and everyone will follow suit!
- Make fun of yourself (and others) – Building relationships, having positive intent, and setting “fun” as a priority are important pre-requisites for this one! A little self-deprecation can help break the ice and lighten up a tense situation. And if you are very comfortable with a teammate, the good relationship you have built can pave the way for you to poke fun at them a bit, too – again, with positive intent. Just steer clear of inappropriate comments – use your judgment.
- Know when it is time to focus – When it is all said and done, you and your team are there to get things done. So keep yourself and the team in check to make sure you are on task, on time, and that you are not distracted from the ultimate goal. Do not sacrifice the work for the sake of having fun! But I am a big believer that being productive and having a good time are not mutually exclusive activities, so you should be okay.
So, what are you waiting for? Start thinking about what relationships you need to improve and how you can make sure people know you have positive intent. Then insert some fun into your daily work life! It will certainly make your days go by quicker and can help with job satisfaction and engagement. And not to mention the fact that your team will love you for mastering the art of having fun!