I like Fast Company magazine. Yeah, the timing of it’s birth and their celebration of the “new economy” just prior to getting “irrational exuberance” flavored bubble gum plastered all over their face resulted in this website, but the publication lives on and stays fresh; at least in my opinion.
“Laughing Your Way to Success” recently caught my attention. An accompanying poll asked readers, “How much humor is there in your office?” Last time I checked the results indicated almost a quarter of respondents had “none!” That’s got to suck. In my office environment, I’d say we’re in the “always joking around” camp. Personally, I try to make people smile or laugh every single day*. The people I’m closest to in work are pretty funny. One guys laugh is infectious, but it probably scares those hearing it for the first time. Another guy is so dry it’s hard to tell if he’s joking or if he doubled up on the Prozac. We have fun and in spite of high pressure, we’re very tightly knit and very productive as a result.
However… Not everyone shares our tendencies. I’ve been to some meetings where everyone is just humorless. I mean, it’s not as if we’re in CTU trying to catch terrorists within 24 synchronized episodes. We’re a very high-performing company, but I worry about the pressure driving laughter out of the environment. Clearly there’s a tight correlation between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction, so won’t our customers be happier if the employees who serve them are? I think morale-boosting humor is a big part of that equation and we all have a responsibility in producing it. So go ahead and at least try to be funny. Even if you suck at it, some of us will find your pathetic attempt funny in itself. You can’t lose and we all win!
* Except the days when I’m just a dour bastard that may as well be wearing a “Don’t even think about talking to me” sandwich board, but I’m making progress working that out with Dr. Melfi.