Every day, a dozen people will message me with the latest joke or meme highlighting some weird (but real) event, with a caption “2020” added.
Most memes and jokes are based on things that are rarely funny. However, the humorous and offbeat observations of 2020 tend to bring cathartic relief to people.
It’s also a good reminder of the important role humor plays in the workplace. Levity helps individuals deal with stress, uncertainty and difficulties – it has been a topic of discussion for me with bank executives for many years.
Over the years, I have often joked about how amazing it was that somewhere along the way the phrase “get down to business” became synonymous with “stop having fun”.
(If you want to test it out, just walk up to any person or group that seems to be having fun at work and say, “Hey, get down to business.”)
The term is universally known to mean that someone doesn’t take things seriously or don’t focus enough on getting a job done. To be fair, there are gaffes in the workplace. And there are times and situations when humor can be misplaced.
What I mean, however, is that smiles, laughs, and humor can be real performance enhancers. Smiles and laughter release dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins in the body. Unlike the substances you hope you never find in an employee’s system, these are incredibly beneficial.
Beyond that, it provides a fairly accurate read on how coworkers get along with each other, as well as how comfortable they feel with their managers based on presence or absence. of humor.
My antenna goes up whenever I spend time with branch teams who are very reserved and formal with each other on the job site. Where some people see seriousness, I see probable friction.
People who work hard jobs for long hours with coworkers they love and trust tend to smile and laugh easily. When trust or respect is low, humor tends to be low.
Managers at all levels need to be keenly aware that humor, smiles and laughter have a powerful influence on the culture and productivity of most workplaces. In fact, the more stressful the job, the more humor will be present among the more cohesive teams.
Most importantly, people in leadership positions tend to have a dominant influence on whether teams are relaxed and comfortable enough to laugh while on the job. Controlling the laughter of a group is one way of exercising power by controlling the emotional climate of the group. This dynamic can be draining and emotionally draining for a team if misused.
Many employees can tell stories of having to assess the mood type of their manager to find out what type of mood they would be allowed to have that day.
On the other hand, most employees can easily remember leaders who created great work environments through clear communication, empathetic leadership and a healthy sense of humor.
For many, 2020 presented particularly difficult challenges for the morale of many banking teams. For example, the almost universal port of masks impact the way bankers interact with clients and colleagues. People are limited in the ability to see (or use) smiles to share a universal sign of goodwill.
Masks, social distancing, and other protocols have a huge impact on the ability to bond socially. If there was a time when healthy doses of humor and brevity can come in handy for banking teams, it is now.
Whether you are leading a small team, region, or an entire organization, understand that the empathy, sincerity, and humor you project matter almost as much as the words you say. Confident and confident leaders tend to smile and laugh freely. And these leaders at ease with even self-deprecation help humanize them for others and bring groups together through shared experiences.
Deliberately fostering more smiles and humor with your teams and clients these days is no fun business. It’s good for business.