It's even in elite sports.
Coaches are sending teams out with the instruction 'have fun'. It makes sense and it's a useful approach for anyone who leads a team.
Here's the traditional way. Years ago, I was a television reporter on the sideline of a provincial rugby game. It was half-time and I could clearly hear a coach haranging his players about their mistakes in the first half. How motivational would that be? Those players may have avoided the same mistakes, but their motivation would be to keep the coach off their backs, not the risk-taking and opportunism that leads to outstanding performances.
The 'have fun' approach only seems soft.
Most people want to improve. They want to achieve (unless you've selected the wrong player or employee). Having fun in sports or challenging assignments comes with benefits that tap into that self-motivation.
Help your team focus on exceeding their previous best performance - not the win-or-lose goal. You are emphasising what they can control.
At work, encourage each team member to treat challenging assignments, even challenging customers, as a chance to develop skills they can add to their CV. Encourage them to see their work as a service to their colleagues or their community.
A game or a project didn't go well? Ask, 'what can we learn from that experience?'
The evidence from psychology is clear: fun, and everything that goes with it, beats the haranging, top-down demands for performance.
Yes, there really is a single thing that accounts for healthier, happier, longer, more rewarding lives.
The objective evidence is compelling. Psychologists at Harvard University have been observing hundreds of people for 75 years – tracking them down at home and in their careers. (One participant ended up in the White House – as president, others in prison – as guests.) It’s the longest, most comprehensive study of human thriving the world has ever seen.
The researchers recorded everything they could think of: their subjects’ height, weight, I.Q., their blood tests and brain scans, their success in their careers - even what parents, children and spouses had to say about them.
After 75 years, one single thing stood out above all others. It wasn’t wealth, nor prestige. And it wasn’t I.Q. nor even talent, nor determination. It wasn’t even being unusually tolerant, or a good communicator.
It was high-quality relationships.
At home, partners in high-quality relationships support each other through life’s troubles – but especially celebrate each other’s successes. (And it is that way around.) Those partners take a long-term view of their relationships so they see disagreements and even some lapses in behaviour as part of a 'work in progress'.
Couldn't we bring the same qualities to our relationships at work?