You should be able to laugh at work. Laughter is infectious. If you are a President or CEO, I hope that your employees see you laugh and that they laugh with you. If this is not the case then “lighten up”, or hire Infinite Vision!
Humor can be a management tool. Yes, we may not laugh at the same things- imagine how powerful a team would be if they recognized that. Humor breeds creativity, transforms fear to comfort and begins to break down transparency barriers. Who would not prosper in a creative, comfortable, transparent team-based space? Companies like Zillow do this very well.
Michael Kerr, an international business speaker, president of Humor at Work, and author of The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses are Laughing all the Way to the Bank (Dec. 2013), says the amount or type of humor you’ll find in any given workplace depends almost entirely on the culture. “In workplaces that encourage people to be themselves—that are less hierarchical and more innovative—people tend to be more open with their humor,” he says. “Even people who aren’t always comfortable sharing their humor tend to do so in more relaxed environments where the use of humor becomes second nature with everyone’s style.”
You will earn respect from your employees, peers and clients when you take a chance at being humorous. It’s like participating in karaoke at a work party, even if your attempt to sing is terrible, people will clap and support you, admiring the fact that you had the confidence to step up. Remember to keep it clean and as universal as possible. Racial, gender or bias-related humor will not be well-received. The goal is to lead and bond the team using humor, not to separate or draw attention to differences. Getting laughs in the workplace can garner respect. Allowing this to happen will make people feel good about where they work and create a friendly environment.
Many surveys suggest that humor is one of the keys to success. A Robert Half International survey found that 91% of executives believe a sense of humor is important for career advancement; while 84% feel that people with a good sense of humor do a better job. Another study by Bell Leadership Institute found that the two most desirable traits in leaders were a strong work ethic and a good sense of humor.
Perception is reality. If you or your office is having a down day, find a reason to laugh—and to share it with your co-workers, peers and employees. Be creative, sincere and open to whatever comes next. Better yet, make it a daily habit.
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