My name is Luke Szyrmer, and if you are new here, I am the author of the book Align Remotely and I help teams thrive and achieve more together when working remotely. Find out more at alignremotely.com. In this episode we chat together with Jeff Harry, originally a play specialist who started using play to help heal toxic work cultures.
Upon listening, you will discover:
Jeff Harry combines positive psychology and play to help teams/organizations navigate difficult conversations and assist individuals in addressing their biggest challenges through embracing a play-oriented approach to work. For his work, Jeff was selected by BambooHR & Engagedly as one of the Top 100 HR Influencers of 2020 and has been featured in the NY Times, Mashable, & Upworthy. Jeff has worked with Google, Microsoft, Southwest Airlines, Adobe, the NFL, Amazon, and Facebook, helping their staff to infuse more play into the day-to-day.
A lot of people use the remote setting to not have a lot of discussions, but to avoid a lot of conversations, they’re like, Oh, we don’t want to deal with that toxic person to be bored because they don’t see each other on a regular basis.
It was just like, okay, I guess what was the problem? Should they get and hope we get goes away?
We actually have a scapegoat. We had where the person where we’re like, all right, I’ll blame everything on this stuffed animal goat, and as people start to do stupid things like this, or try these things, they realize like it’s a lot of this stuff is absurd. Really be gossiping, or getting really angry. David, because he didn’t, refill the paper tray, or he didn’t nail like that.
As someone who’s dabbled in improv in the past, a lot of what Jeff said felt right…although he was probably preaching to the choir when speaking to me, and that wasn’t really news for me. What was surprising was his view that most companies have used the pandemic as a way to avoid hard conversations. If you aren’t deliberate about facing people issues, they won’t go away. It’s even harder now with the pandemic. A good framework for these conversations is Jonathan Raymond’s accountability dial from the last episode coincidentally, but beyond that trying to create an improv theater mindset with deep listening seems to be how to solve the problem for good.
I also really liked the practical tips around expressing appreciation for team members in a remote context. It helps if you really know the person, but if you don’t, Jeff’s advice should help you with coming up with a thoughtful gift or expression of appreciation.
Welcome to the managing remote teams podcast.
Wait, let’s get into it. I’m ready.
How did you get into the topic of play in the first place?
Ooh so I’ll give you the short version of the Batman origin story, but do you remember the movie big. Did you see that with Tom Hanks as a kid?
I, yeah, vaguely at this point
people saw it, Tom Hanks dances on a piano. And then he’s got, he gets offered a job at a toy company and I was in third grade and I was like, Oh wait, that’s a job. Like you could work for toy companies. So I started writing toy companies literally in third grade and I didn’t stop.
Until I got into the toy industry, 15 years later. And I don’t know if you’ve ever gotten an exactly what you’ve always wanted and then been so disappointed when you were that’s exactly what happened. No toys, no fun, no high fives, no adults plague, like just no joy. People might as well selling pillows or socks.
So I leave New York. I leave the toy industry. I leave my dream industry. I come to the San Francisco Bay area. I bump into the organization, teaching kids engineering with Lego. I found it on Craigslist, which is like this joke spam website. But they were playing for a living. So I was like, Oh dude, I want to do this.
They paid 150 bucks a week. But I was like, but they’re playing. So I’m going to make this a thing. And we did we grew this small, tiny organization from seven people to 400 people became the largest Legere inspired STEM organization, like in the U S but we did it all by playing. We had no idea what we were doing.
we picked cities, we thought were fun. We picked people, we thought were fun. We had no business plan. So we just, all the time failed miserably a lot. But we just kept messing around and kept experimenting and eventually got the attention of Silicon Valley, Adobe, Facebook, Google, all of them.
And they were like, Hey, do you do team building events? We’re like, of course we do know we did it, but we just said yes. And we ended up, I ended up running team building events for the top tech companies for the next decade. And I realized that even though they spoke about disruption and innovation and risk-taking and all these buzz words, in my opinion, I didn’t feel they had created a psychologically safe work environment, too.
Actually do those things. They weren’t actually playing. They weren’t actually risk-taking. So I created rediscover your play, combining positive psychology in play to address a lot of the issues like navigating difficult conversations and toxicity at work, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.
What are the most common things that you see when you start? In, in these big organizations?
Lot of talk, a lot of, a lot of posters on the wall. Of we’re in the, we thrive through risk-taking, we fail forward. We innovate by taking leaps and you’re like, no, no, like you didn’t bring the storming sessions.
In a box room around a box table, in an hour, then you expect the greatest ideas to go about. And you’re like, I don’t think that’s a big risk or, even in the remote setting, it’s just. A lot of people use the remote setting to not have a lot of discussions, but to avoid a lot of conversations, they’re like, Oh, we don’t want to deal with that toxic person to be bored because they don’t see each other on a regular basis.
It was just like, okay, I guess what was the problem? Should they get and hope we get goes away? So I see that a lot. I was on an Australian TV show yesterday and they were like what’s the thing that Pete, that companies do the most, what’s their biggest mistake.
And I was like, they don’t try. They just don’t shine. Like they don’t try to have a carb hard conversation. They don’t try to address the issue. They just hope it disappears on its own because they have never been comfortable ever. Doing that type of work.
So how do you get comfortable with trying?
You have to fail safely. It’s all about practice, you’re in Poland, but even when you were here in Philly, football’s a huge thing. What do they do?
The Eagles practice all week. For three hour game, what do we do at work? No practice. Like never, we never get depressed. Having a hard conversation. We never get to practice mediating a discussion. How many managers do you know that got promoted? Because they did the first job. And now they’re doing the manager job and they’re horrible at it because they’ve never practiced manage.
They were just like, all right, now you’re in charge of these people. Tell them exactly what you did and they don’t know how to do that. Give some opportunities to practice. So that’s really a lot of our workshop. It’s just like creating a safe playground to be like, all right, let’s have that hard conversation, practice let’s role, play it out over and over again until you’re like, Oh, you know what?
It’s not that bad. Because what is, what’s the acronym for fear, false evidence appearing real. And that’s really what it is. It’s a lot of times we’re just psyching ourselves out because We’ve just built up the story that it’s scary than it actually is.
So these practice sessions you pull out the Legos and you create situations where, so no.
So let’s say I’m running this workshop with my friend, Gary, where, it’s called how to deal with toxicity at work through play is we’ll actually have people role play out what it’s like to be that toxic person, just so they can put themselves in their own shoes. It’d be like, Oh, this power, I love this power, or I hate this power, and then also, how would you have that conversation with that person directly? Are you attacking their character or you were addressing their behavior. Okay. Let’s run that back again. How would you have a discussion with their boss? How would you know, what does that look like?
So that they just get different reps in different situations. Almost like what we would do if you were, playing football and being like, let’s play out these scenarios so that you know what you might have to say in each one, and then you don’t know what you’re going to be walking into, but at least you’re comfortable more because you’ve failed and practice many times with many different options.
So it’s role-playing a structured role playing. Okay. Got it. Got it. And then is this mostly two people like one-on-one or do you have groups
for the exhibit? You do like the fishbowl where someone is talking to someone else and that someone stops it as and then someone else comes in to replace that person. We can do a lot of improv games like that. Also when I’ve run this workshop with my friend Lauren, he was looking around for, if I have it with me. Oh, here it is. We actually have a scapegoat. We had where the person where we’re like, all right, I’ll blame everything on this stuffed animal goat, and as people start to do stupid things like this, or try these things, they realize like it’s a lot of this stuff is absurd. Really be gossiping, or getting really angry. David, because he didn’t, refill the paper tray, or he didn’t nail like that.
You start to question we say this all the time. It was just like, we’re always saying We are the heroes in our own story. And when we tell that story that everyone else is a villain, and we challenged that notion to be like, are you really the hero? Are you always the hero?
And everyone else is wrong or is this, are we just looking at it in a different way?
in terms of improv, like how have you gotten involved in that? Or how have you been involved with improv?
My, my friend, Gary Ware’s been running an improv for the last five years, but most of a lot of the team building events that I ran for the past decade, always involved certain level of impact.
Propositional Gates because a lot of times, and what’s interesting about the whole concept of improv is it’s like it’s ESA in, right? Like you want to run a good meeting. You yesterday in the meeting, like you stopped the meeting. What’s funny is now design thinking is like, Hey, we have this thing. It’s really amazing. It’s no, you’re just doing, yes, that’s really all you’re doing, which is great, but just own it.
But the other part of improv that I really liked the concept of it is you’re always about making your partner look good or making your other people a part of your troop look good.
And it’s the same thing at work, like you can actually do that where you were like, look, You helping someone else out. So they look good actually directly you out. So a lot of times we’re trying to shift just that perspective of like, why are you trying to get, I compete with Samantha right now?
For this, bonus or the top bonus. When, if y’all get each other’s back, you both are going to get paid more. Let’s focus on that.
Interesting. From a improv perspective, are you thinking about these like scenes that people are playing out? Or how is it is that how these role playing things usually work out or you just give them certain prompts and then they hash it out? Or is it solving specific things that already exist?
Please start off by just having them. Practice different roles first, just to get comfortable, because at the beginning you’re just like what’s going on here? This is weird. And also I’m not about forced funds. So if some people are uncomfortable doing it, I’m like, Hey, just hang out on the sidelines. Like you’re at a playground. And you’re like, if you want to jump in. But then later on after we’ve role-played certain scenarios out, then we get more specific of what is the issue that you’re currently having with your boss, with your colleague? All right. Let’s actually practice that specifically out. So then that’s people doing that. One-on-one with someone and then moving on and doing it again with someone else in different, again, someone else. So they get different options.
Meanwhile, we’re coaching and consulting them throughout because then after this workshop is over, we don’t like doing the whole one and done, we’ll run the workshop, but then the way in which we measure it is we go back to that person that brought us in was like, how many more difficult conversations are you having in comparison than you were before?
Does anyone need to be coached more on having these conversations? Because a lot of this work takes three, six, nine months, sometimes even longer. I had someone that was toxic at one of my jobs. It took three, four years before that person got help. They started getting their own like personal therapy.
So this is a, these are ongoing work that people have to do. And I think a lot of times we want that silver bullet that will just solve the situation, which is hilarious because that’s what I used to find when I was running team building events. They’re like, Hey, we’ve had toxicity for five years, but can you just, come on in here and do it.
Escape from the room and then, and solve it all. And it was just like, dude, failure, eat Samantha regardless of whether they get out of this room alive.
So one thing I wanted to ask you like with play, the way that I’ve. Understood it is that it’s very much about not having a goal, but giving yourself the space to explore. How do you think about it?
I defined plays any joyful act where you forget about time, it has no purpose. It has no result. You don’t have anxiety about the future. You don’t have regrets about the past. You were just like fully in the moment you’re fully in flow, right? And a lot of times we do our best work when we’re in flow.
I think we’re five times more productive when we’re in flow. That’s why I tell a lot of managers, whatever I’m consulting is, what’s your staff’s flow work? Do you know it? Do you have any clue what the work is that they forget about time, the work, where if they weren’t getting paid, they would still do it because if you can identify that work and then you can increase the percentage of that work of Oh, you love connecting with clients. Oh, you’re only talking to them. 10 to 15% of your job, how do we increase that to 15 to 20 or 25%? Because that’s business outs, bottom line. And then on top of that, it’s going to boost morale, boost productivity, and probably reduce turnover because you’re now doing the work that you actually really enjoy doing.
That’s what I mean about play now play in the concept of this stuff is this is results oriented. So how is this, how do we approach this? In this sense what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to have them re frame how they see this difficult conversation to see it more like experiments, like an experiment because I talk a lot about how.
Plays the opposite of perfection and perfection is rooted in like shame and ego and trying to be right all the time. And I think at work we’re always trying to be right. And what we really need to be doing is playing, which is curiosity, experimentation, all that stuff. You think about it, any business when they first started off, the only reason they’re around is because they were playing at the beginning.
They were risking like I, can we create an internet? A search engine that brings everyone together. Can we sell books online? Anything that, why are we on this live webinar right now? This is because someone was like, I didn’t have the audacity to try it. So what happened to all that play in all these companies as they got bigger?
From an individual perspective. Yeah, totally like the more you can get, create an environment where your people enjoy what they do and spend as much of their time doing what they enjoy then that’s great. But then what about groups? Is there a way that.
Yeah, because, so we’re play is a lot of it is designed based off of how much psychological safety is in the group. So questions like, can I say it anything that’s on my mind with the group? Can I bring up a topic that no one wants to talk about?
Can I joke within the group? A lot of times you can measure psychological safety of a team by how much they laugh together. And how honest they are together and, and how blunt they can be at times. And when you see that you’ve seen this, even with teams, sports teams, when they’re in that flow together, when they’re working on a project, I’m sure like everyone that’s listening those when they’ve been in a group process and they’re like in the zone together, they’re reading each other, even if they’re not hearing each other’s thoughts because they’ve been, or they are hearing each other’s thoughts, whether, they’re not talking to each other directly because there’s a certain level of trust, understanding, and experience that they’re having together. That’s built through psychological safety and that’s built with actually building things together and taking risks together and failing together as well as succeeding together. You can’t do that when people are avoiding having a conversation.
There’s a certain way in which teams evolve in terms of, first they get together. So I guess in the earlier stages, you might have less of that psychological safety
building up each experience.
What do you mean by that?
So each WID, each failure, when, may, let’s say the company goes public, right?
Let’s say, that team goes through some huge layoffs. Let’s say w this is going to happen with a lot of teams now. Lot of teams coming back into the office after the pandemic, did they survive together? What happened together? This is going to be a really crucial time. I know this is managing remote teams, but even like teams, if they’re coming back into the office together or just seeing each other face to face and they haven’t seen each other for over a year and a half, what has happened?
Have they have, they become farther apart, do some people want to go back to the office because they miss their staff and others are like, I’d never want to see Chad ever again, these are all like conversations and questions that you have to have with your team. And if you’re a leader you would be willing to do that, you’d be willing to sit down with them.
You can even do this in the remote environment. Be like, is there. A subject that you are not comfortable sharing with me. And just seeing if they would say yes, they’re all like, no, they’re like,
we can tell you, it’s just obvious, right? Yeah. You know who the toxic person is in the room, when you’re like, who’s the toxic person on the team. Everyone knows work environment because I think someone tell me once culture is defined by the worst behavior tolerated. You have all of the values and the mission, on the board.
And when you first, you do your orientation, they’re like, we, we care about each other. We watch each other’s back. And then Chad is stabbing people in the back over here. And you’re like, as they walk by to chat, not get the memo about the values. And he’s Oh, Chad, doesn’t follow those.
Oh, okay. Okay. Okay. That’s what we do. Okay.
The zoom in a very much more specific thing like zoom calls or meetings with a whole bunch of people on a call. This is probably one of the more uncomfortable things that remote leaders need to do, need to organize, especially with a larger group that they don’t know that In terms of, let’s say psychological safety. Yes. And, or some of the other things you mentioned, what would be a good way of approaching it, a mindset or a technique or something that kind of going into it that people could try or play around?
Few suggestions first, I think you have to build a certain level of safety between you as the boss and the, the staff each of them. So how many one-on-one conversations are you having with your staff? Again? How much do you know about their flow work? What, how do you know their language of appreciation? Is it acts of service? Is it gifts? Is it quality time? And are you showing these things? This is the words of affirmation.
I give this example of words of affirmation. If you actually gave praise to your staff member that loves that. But not only are you giving praise to them, to the rest of the team, but to other departments one day, they might be able to transfer to those other departments, just showing that you have their back and that you’re willing to like vouch for them, even if they eventually leave.
Sometimes it makes them even more loyal. I had someone that actually was going to leave to take their dream job. But as soon as they were interviewing their dream job, they came back to us because they had a certain level of loyalty because they really appreciated how we saw them. So that has to happen before you even go into the meeting. Right?
Second thing is you really have to ask yourself, are these meetings necessary? does this meeting need to be an hour? Like why are meetings an hour? I forgot if it was Microsoft office or whatever, there’s this arbitrary reason why they’re 60 minutes. They don’t have to be, they can be like 17 minutes. They can be seven minutes. Don’t waste. People’s time at meetings. They don’t have to be at. And they’re more likely to when they show up actually be engaged. So that’s another thing you can do. Also, you can positively prime the meeting. A lot of people don’t know this, but the first person that shares at the meeting primes the rest of the meeting.
And this is even before the meeting starts. So you don’t have to leader. It’s just like the first people that are there early. If someone is complaining to start the meeting, it actually has a ripple effect of the rest of the meeting. And it can be less productive. But if you’re starting off by talking about your baby, you’re talking about something that’s good or something that’s happening, that actually really helps as well.
And then when you’re doing meetings, you got to think about if you have a large group. On there. What’s all of the meetings. If you have a large group in a meeting, a lot of people are not comfortable sharing. Personal stuff or sharing, something that might cause a ripple, so you have to be like, all right. W what is the purpose of this meeting? Is it for me to disseminate information? And if it is for me to disseminate information, could this have been done by email? And if not, why? Okay. Because I’m going to answer some questions based off the information. Sweet. But if it’s just something more like, all right, we’re going to have a really hard conversation. Try to have that really hard conversation just with the people that are involved. Not with everybody, don’t bring everyone else into the drama because people don’t all need to have that. You can address it between the two or three people that are having that issue. And then later on, come back and be like, Hey.
I know y’all had, knew that Chad and Samantha weren’t getting along well, we’ve addressed that issue. And just wanted to let you guys give you an update on that really quick, moving on, but like actually gets stuff done. I think a lot of times we lose faith in our managers. What is it?
Burnout happens when you have hundreds, if not thousands of small betrayals of trust, right? And every time your manager says they’re going to do something and then they don’t do it, we’re going to make meetings more engaging and then they’re, then you don’t believe them. So then you start showing up being more and more disengaged on a zoom meeting.
Oh, that’s interesting. So what about something like let’s say a brainstorming session or a workshop where you actually want everyone to be engaged? that first kind of thing to pull people in?
Y’all I think we should experiment. I think we should try different, modalities of figuring this out. Let’s say you’re on a zoom meeting, and your loss, and this is just an idea, just throwing it out there, but I’m like on the zoom meeting, instead of you doing this, sitting. On your chair right here in your office. I want everyone to get on their phone call in from me, have your phone still be on video.
And I want you to just go walk over to in this meeting and just mute yourself whenever some loud noise comes around, but let’s move. Let’s do something. Let’s just change the dynamic of how we’re doing this. I’ve taught this a lot with clients where they’ve had better sessions when they like.
Go play basketball. They’re like shooting hoops while they’re like talking to their staff, something else besides being, sitting and being like, we got to figure this out and we gotta figure this out in an hour, or you could do something else where you’re like, Hey, I know some of you all work better separately.
Instead of. Having an hour for this meeting, I will, I’m going to give you the first, like 20 minutes to brainstorm and give me a bunch of crazy ideas, on your own. Or if you feel like you need to work with other people, go ahead and do that. And then we’ll hop on with 40 minutes to go. And everyone just start throwing your ideas of me. I don’t care how you come up with them. I don’t care if you’re dancing while you’re doing it. I really don’t care. I just need amazing ideas, but I don’t think we’re all gonna figure them out by me being like, all right, go tell me right now, do from a creative standpoint in order to do that.
And I think the more we’re able to allow people to create from their zone of genius instead of forcing them to do it our way, the more positive results you get.
What have you. Seen happening over the last year, since the pandemic started in terms of how people interact online and how teams have changed now that everyone’s largely been online. That’s certainly within tech and in those spaces that are more, let’s say knowledge, work, orient.
Yeah. Notice, lack of transparency. Like lot of companies not telling their staff what’s going on. But by accident or deliberately?
Bo some are like lack of transparency, like financially, like how’s the business doing?
They don’t know. So there’s a lot of assumptions on that point, should I be looking for another job or not? And then their boss is not saying anything and then their boss. Gets another job at another company, there’s a lot of a lot of assumptions being made, right? Not a lot of like addressing of the issues. I think we’ve used the pandemic in many ways to not have those hard conversations, and then of course then you silo even more, a lot more siloing. Of course. So then you just start talking to people that you. Feel comfortable talking to, and then you have to talk to your boss, but like people that you really would not ever want to interact with, you just don’t, and then what’s interesting now with some people that have want to go, with. Managers being like, all right we’re getting back to work soon. Everyone’s going to get back to the office. A lot of people don’t want to go back 60%, want to go back and other 50, other 40 to 50% don’t you know, so it’s interesting.
Some people are like, I’m more productive at home. All those micromanagers that were like, You can’t work at home because you’re never going to be productive. What are they saying now? Now they don’t have a leg to stand on. So they’re just like, and they couldn’t do their micromanagement job in the same way of hovering over you in the office.
So they tried to do it remotely, but it probably wasn’t as effective. The argument now is what are you going to do as a manager or what are you going to do as a company to. Persuade your staff to come back to the office and make it so that they want to go back because you could forced them to go back, but do a lot of them are not going that are going to leave your company.
Like I say Steven Johnson says the future’s where people are having the most fun. And yo man, if you’re not having fun at that, you’re a company. Like it’s not bringing shared humanity back to the workplace and you’re not, yo I, I can work in my pajamas and they go watch a little Netflix and come back to that.
At the office, I have to bartend tend to work for eight hours a day. A recent study was found in 2019, I think by Inc that realized that people can only do deep work for two hours and 51 minutes out of an eight hour Workday. So yet, yet in America, our Workday has extended now to 8.8 hours.
So what are people doing for 5.8 hours, especially when. Going to get coffee, responding to stupid emails, doing a lot of stupid meetings, lot of wasteful meetings. And then also just doing work. That’s like kind of a waste, there’s like a book I call BS jobs and it talks about how, if you took many middle management jobs out, just like RIT.
It wouldn’t change the company in hall. So there’s a lot of people that are just persuading others that they’re doing real work with. A lot of people are not doing work that’s really necessary. So we really just have to, I look at it and as a manager, you have to be asking yourself if my staff could only do three to four hours of quality work. And the rest of it is mundane, non-substantive work. What work do I want them to do? Because the more the work that they actually enjoy and their flow work, the more benefits it’s going to have to the right organization. And if you need examples of that, look at Google’s 20% program, their 20% rule where they gave them our staff a fifth of their time to pursue their curiosity.
What came from that program? Google maps Google news. G-mail Google meet all these things that like, or their Google is founded on is because they allowed their staff have to pursue their curiosity and allowed their staff to play more at work.
How do you do yes and in a remote setting?
I think it’s the same way where you go, all right. Where you are going to brainstorm, trying to solve this project in a brand new way. And what I want to do is I just want to hear. Your craziest ideas and what we’re going to practice doing is you’re just simply going to add on to each other’s ideas.
I’m trying to think of like an example that would make sense. Okay. We’re trying to improve retention of staff. Okay. Why don’t we expand, paternity leave. All right. Hey, that’s a great idea. And while we’re doing that, why don’t we extend vacation? Hey, that’s a great idea.
Why don’t we actually pay people more and you’re throwing all these ideas out and then absorbs, someone’s going to be like, they’re never going to do any of these ideas, but it’s like it, but it doesn’t matter. Because right now you’re yes. And-ing and the craziest idea, and I’ve seen this so many times at meetings, the outlandish idea where you’re like why don’t we have everyone just go to a Ruba, Always then eventually leads to the actual idea. So sometimes you have to go to the extreme to actually get to the idea that you really want to do.
And they talk about something called the groan zone at meetings where you would usually happens as you go in in a good meeting. You go through this zone where you’re brainstorming and then. It’s a time where it feels awkward and you’re just like, and this is usually when the boss is okay, we’re done here. This is just what we’re going to do. If that boss or that leader of that manager does not shut everything down and allows that grown zone to last just a little bit longer. And for us to sit in the awkwardness and get more and more ideas, even as absurd as they get, the more likely you’re going to be able to find that actual idea that exists, but many leaders shut these brainstorming sessions down way too early. So what I would say it was just like, Hey let’s yes, I end everything. We’re going to throw everything on the board. Like we do in design thinking, and then we’ll have all a slew of these ridiculous ideas. And then we can start pulling the ones that most resonate with us. And then after that, then we can try. Three of these ideas and actually see which ones are the most realistic ones that we can actually get done within the next quarter and see what happens. And then you have all these other ideas that you can actually go back to later on.
Usually what happens though is this is a meeting, a brainstorming meeting is usually the person that speaks the most says ideas. I got this idea that, Hey, I got this idea. And then the boss was like, yeah, that’s a good idea, Chad. That’s a very good idea, Chad, and then no one else speaks. So then you’re just like, we’re going to go with Chad’s idea at the end.
Why was I even here? You should’ve just had the 10 other people in the room.
Yeah. Yeah, no I’m really curious about the human interaction that, that can still happen online, that people just forget about and they focus on, the tech tools or that kind of thing and the online, but actually it’s not the tools that matter. It’s the human relationships. It’s the. The way people speak to each other. It’s that kind of a part of it, which I think people just don’t realize that, that it exists. And also they didn’t use it when they were in the office either because they didn’t know about it either.
I have a friend who’s a leader at his company, tech company, pretty well-known they have lunch, every day or every other day and just eat together. They don’t talk about work at all. That’s it? That’s it. And then he has one-on-one meetings with them, but he rarely has a lot of group meetings, but they just hang out and they’re just eating and hanging out and, but the rule is they don’t talk about work.
That’s another way in which just like safety is being built. Where it’s just, we’re not judging each other all the time. I say this a lot that, people are already playing at work. They’re just playing a role that they don’t like. They’re tending to be a manager that knows what they’re talking about. They’re pretending to be like a senior director, they’re pretending to. No, you know who they’re pretending to play a role that is not them. And that’s so exhausting. That’s why you burn out so much because you’re like, Oh, I got to go to work and pretend to be like professional Luke or professional Jeff. And it’s just that’s tiring, man. The more we can actually show up and I hate the phrase like. Your authentic self, because it’s been overused, right? It’s like full authenticity, but the more you can actually show up and feel like, yeah, I’m wearing pajama bottoms and what don’t judge me.
And no one’s judging you for doing that where you don’t feel that you have to be. All the time and you’re not trying to get it right, but you’re just like, Hey, I’m just trying to figure out this project right now. I don’t really know what I’m doing right now. I’m really struggling with that.
The more you can have conversations like that. And people like, Hey, I got your back. I’ve been there. That’s how the safety starts to get built. The more you’re the managers using languages of appreciations, like acts of service for someone that appreciates that, Hey. Luke, I know that something’s going on with, people at home. Yo I’ll cover your shift on Friday or I’ll let me cover some of your work because I feel like you’re overwhelmed right now. I got you. The more you do things like that’s what actually builds safety. It’s not like just one conversation, every small little act, every small little detail. It’s every time you’re at a meeting and you’re like, Hey guys, we’re going to all brainstorm.
And I want to hear your best ideas, and then you don’t as a leader negate any of those ideas. But as soon as we say that, we’re like, here’s your best idea? And then someone’s Hey, I got this great idea. No, that’s really stupid. There you go. He’s gone. The safety’s gone.
Yeah. So one thing you mentioned earlier this the way that you. Appreciate people haven’t used some particular term or thought like in terms of ways that people want to be appreciated a bit more about that.
There was these things called love languages. They talked a lot about this, but then they turned it to two languages of appreciation. And this is really good for leaders to recognize. So there’s many different languages appreciation.
One is acts of service. So it’s. And this is what you would actually ask yourself, acts of services. You’re actually doing work for them. You’re you get their back, you’re covering their shift. You’re doing something to that effect.
Another one is words of affirmation. You’re actually giving them credit and publicly, not just to the team, but to other departments as well. Hey, Luke has been doing an amazing job for my team. They love to hear that. So certain people love that.
Others like quality time. Quality time is you simply like maybe having lunch with them, even over zoom being like once every week or once every two or three weeks let’s have lunch. And then let, just tell me about what’s going on with you. How’s this job, how’s your career. Is this the PR trajection that you wanted to go so quality of time, actually spending time with them.
And then the other one is gifts. People like gifts and gifts in, at work as bonuses. So something like this where you can take the same bonus that they get at the end of the year, and you can spread it out throughout the entire year. And each time they do something that’s really good. You give them some of their bonus, same amount of money, but now you’re giving it to them each time you’re recognizing the work that they’re doing. And maybe at the end, maybe you’re giving them a little bit more,
Gifts can be many things, it could be like Starbucks gift cards and things like that. But I think a lot of times when people like gifts, they like bonuses. They like money, so you can ask your staff, is that what motivates you?
And then if so then. Take that bonus that they get at the end of the year and spread it out throughout the entire year, because many studies have found that people are more productive when they’re recognized each and every time with a little amount of, their bonus spread out throughout that entire year.
So another thing you can try and it’s not costing you any more money,
What about gifts as in physical gifts or something like that? Non-financial gifts.
Yeah. So you just have to make sure the gifts are relevant to them. But again, you need to know what they know. So go on their social media feeds, see what they usually post, what do they like? And they actually recognize what they want, or simply just go up to them and be like, ask. Ask Hey, I got a really good job, whatever you do, a good job, and I know you appreciate gifts. We’re going to gifts. Would you like, with within reason, they might be like, I wish I got a day off.
Sweet. All right. Let’s see if we can make that happen. Even if you ultimately can’t make all of their requests happen. Just the fact that you’re trying speak. So please speaks volumes. Yeah, no that’s really interesting.
Yeah. Where can people reach out to you and find out more about play and yes and everything else that you do through her.
So they can find email@example.com. And when you go there, there’s a let’s play button. You can simply click the let’s play button, and I have a bunch of play activities you can actually do with your team to create psychological safety. And then you can hop on a call with me and we can figure out how we can make play happen or organizations so that your team could have more fun at work and actually enjoy either going back to the workplace or enjoy hanging out with each other remotely.
Great. Thanks a lot.