Whether it’s summiting a mountain or climbing the corporate ladder, success can often be attributed to great leadership. Through my experience mountaineering and consulting with top organizations, I noticed that the best leaders focus on the same things.
Sometimes companies have to tighten their belt, but doing more with less isn’t usually the best option. Not providing the right resources with which to work is easily as detrimental as not having the right resources on a high altitude climb. I have seen climbers relying on the wrong crampons or ice axe, which made a difficult climb even more arduous. I witnessed situations where people who had the wrong UV level of protection in their sunglasses became “snow blind” and the whole expedition had to go back down the mountain to get them off to safety and medical help.
In my 30 years of listening to employees in the workplace, I have heard some of the most unengaged complain, quite rightly, that they were made responsible for doing a great job, yet were given antiquated, worn down, or incorrect tools and equipment. As such, most of these people were extremely frustrated, and some even reported serious safety violations or accidents as a result.
Action Item: As a leader, one of the best things you can do is to make sure you are providing the right resources your employees need to flourish and achieve great workplace outcomes. Rather than assuming you’re doing this already, make sure you ask employees for their feedback. You might be surprised by what they say.
Studies have shown that laughter relaxes muscles, lowers blood pressure, and speeds the flow of oxygen through the body, which ultimately reduce stress levels. In addition, both smiling and laughing release endorphins into the brain. Encouraging laughter in the workplace is a great way to make a positive impact on both company culture and employees’ wellness. Nearly all of my Best-in-Class Employee Engagement clients had proactive efforts to build laughter and levity into their workplace and culture.
We spend far too much time working not to be laughing more often. Five-year-olds laugh an average of 113 times per day. As we get older, this number continues to decrease until it bottoms out in adulthood— from age 44 to retirement with only 11 times per day. 1 To me, these statistics are rather sad.
Some of my most memorable moments on mountaineering expeditions incorporated fun into the climb or experience. Take a look at this video of blistering weather and our expedition leader’s wise crack about 80-mile an hour wind “keeping the mosquitoes down.”
Action Item: What fun can you incorporate into work next week? If you have a team meeting, find a funny story or video to help you make a point on the agenda. If you’re doing a presentation, try adding a slide with a photo that will make your colleagues chuckle. The extra effort will be well worth it!
Having the right resources and having fun may seem like simple advice for the workplace, but it’s often an opportunity for improvement. Make sure you capitalize on these quick wins for employee engagement.
1. Charles “Chic” Thompson, What a great idea! (New York: Harper Perennial, 1992) 26.