Humour in the Workplace

Humour as a competency

In today’s workplace humour is seen as a necessary competency for leaders. Michael M. Lombardo & Robert W. Eichinger in For Your Improvement – A Development and Coaching Guide (Lominger Ltd.- The LEADERSHIP ARCHITECT) suggest how humour shows up as unskilled, skilled and overused in the workplace and give some remedies for the leader who wants to improve. A person skilled in the humour competency:

  • Has a positive and constructive sense of humour
  • Can laugh at him/herself and with others
  • Is appropriately funny and can use humour to ease tension.

Benefits of humour in the workplace

Promotes team cohesion

Promotes creativity and experimentation

Promotes wellness – relieves stress & tension

Deepens relationships

More ideas generated in brainstorming exercises

More options generated in problem solving exercises

Provides broader perspective

Grabs people’s interest and keeps them interested.

How can leaders create a working environment where joy, fun, humour and playfulness thrive?

  1. Model good humour skills to signal that’s the culture we desire.
  2. Allow time for enjoyment, social banter, anecdotes, informal chatting and story trading at the water cooler or in meetings or wherever.
  3. Hold a humour meeting (call it something like “Enhancing morale” or Stress reduction”) and discuss ways to have more humour, what topics are acceptable /not acceptable, do some creative exercises. Example: Come up with 10 words at random and then respond to the question “How can we have fun in this workplace?” using the random words as a place to begin.
  4. Create a fun zone with colourful toys.
  5. Create a laughter bulletin board for the latest Dilbert and other jokes.
  6. Share the occasional joke  by e-mail 
  7. Have a costume day
  8. Form or join a laughter club. (sources of information: http://www.laughteryoga.org and http://www.worldlaughtertour.com) May 1st is World Laughter Day – celebrate it.

Coaching Questions to Stimulate Reflection About Your Life & Work

  1. How does the culture of your organization view laughter and humour?
  2. Is it an unspoken rule in your organization to keep your dreams secret? How would you feel about revealing your inner person? What would happen if everyone took off their armour?
  3. Do you enjoy your work and workplace now? If not, what would it take to make it enjoyable?