Ask me what matters most about my work at Omni Circuit Boards and I’m quick tell you it’s being challenged and having fun.
I can survive for a while without an ongoing challenge, but if I stop having fun, it’s time to move on. What has helped me to have fun has been my good fortune to work with some very good people in some engaging roles.
My favorite question to ask people I work with is “Are you having fun?” If they are having fun, I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing because “Happiness breeds success.” And if they aren’t having fun, I need to know how we can change the process, the tools, the environment, the team or their role to help them enjoy their day.
I have always found one of the keys to building successful teams is matching the right role with the right people. Or “horses for courses” as the English say. I have seen several examples where people were poorly matched to their roles. Simply moving from a production supervisor role to purchasing or from reception to the inventory team has had a dramatic impact on their performance and the result was a person who started having fun.
During the job interview process, I’m careful to try and determine what role an individual would be suited for by learning what they most enjoy doing. The interview typically goes something awkwardly like this:
“So what are you actively doing on those days where you are really enjoying yourself at work?” I ask.
The normal response is silence accompanied by a blank, dull stare.
So I delve deeper, “You know, those days that go by so fast it seems like you just walked in the door and only moments later it’s quitting time?”
By now I’m getting a quizzical and often doubtful look from the candidate. Some look around for the hidden camera perhaps thinking they are being pranked.
“The days when you are having so much fun you have to pinch yourself that someone would actually pay you to do something you are enjoying so much?”
Usually by then I’m met with abject confusion and a shaking head. I find it very disappointing to learn so many people haven’t found work or at least some aspect of it they can truly enjoy.
Over the years, I have met a number of people who describe themselves in conversation by what they do. Sometimes it’s just the job title, other times they provide their job description. When they’re done, I always ask the same question: “Are you having fun?” Sadly, they usually change the topic or in one case, the person responded by proudly telling me his hourly pay rate. Both responses gave their answers, although not the one I was hoping to hear.
It has been my experience having fun at work requires just a few key elements:
- Respect of your peers
- Mastery of your role
- Surrounded by good people you trust
- You and your team possess the authority, skills and knowledge to overcome the challenges
- An ethical environment
Am I always having fun at a printed circuit board shop? Absolutely not. I’m not psychotic, I’m just a little crazy. But to give you some insight into how to tell if I’m really enjoying myself at work, you have to imagine a grown man skipping through the shop unintentionally belting out, at the top of my lungs, my impression of Aretha Franklin’s ”(You make me feel like) a natural woman.” Usually to the amusement, although admittedly sometimes bewilderment, of folks on the shop floor. And I honestly don’t mind their double takes because, I’m having fun.
Are you having or have you had a job where you actually had fun? Can you share what elements made it fun for you (feel free to leave a comment)?