Managers are constantly looking for ways to “motivate” team members. This has led to an endless search for the right combination of carrots and sticks. These often include financial incentives, reward programs such as travel, merchandise or public recognition, punishments, and performance management systems.

These approaches can be motivating or manipulative depending upon whether they are based on a set of values and assumptions that are traditional management or leadership-based. I’ve just come across a very entertaining and engaging video clip (less than two minutes long) that cleverly illustrates the power of fun to move people toward taking the stairs rather than the escalator. Check out Stairs versus Escalator for a quick bit of fun and inspiration.

Fun is a very powerful motivator that’s vastly undervalued and underutilized by most managers. That’s probably because they aren’t putting enough fun and joy into their own work lives!

Here are some ways to raise your Laughter Index and bring more fun to your team or organization:

  • Appoint a Director of Fun, take joke breaks, use humorous video clips, have dress-up theme days, and the like.
  • Have a special thanks/congratulations breakfast or lunch BBQ served (or cooked) by management or the project team leader.
  • Bring in spontaneous treats (e.g. doughnuts, cake, ice cream, pizza party) for reaching a milestone.
  • Give your customers the ability to award certificates, points, or “recognition dollars” to the frontline servers that give them great service.
  • Give servers/producers the ability to award certificates, points, or “recognition dollars” to the internal partners supporting their efforts.
  • Develop walls of fame or alcoves of excellence on your Intranet site, internal newsletter, or throughout your organization, filled with pictures, awards, performance charts, customer/partner letters, hero stories, and the like.
  • Hold “top team” days to recognize high-performing teams. Have them set-up a “trade show” in your lobby, exhibit hall, or a hotel ballroom to show off what they’ve been doing and connect others to their work.
  • Get teams presenting accomplishments to executives/managers/ visitors.
  • Send hand-written personal thank you or congratulations notes.

What are you doing to add more fun to your workplace? The most powerful and lasting rewards are those that excite and unite everyone toward a shared vision and common goals. How are you making the work itself rewarding? How are you providing that leadership?