I worked a part-time job in college and graduate school to help pay the bills and I learned a very valuable lesson from the different experiences I had in two of the jobs that I worked. I randomly ended up working in two different dessert “restaurants” back to back. The first place I worked was at an ice cream store where the founder continued to be heavily involved in the day-to-day operations.
When most people think of an ice cream store, they picture one person behind a counter scooping ice cream with a smile on their face to one, or maybe two, customers. Our store blocked traffic on the highway. We were insanely busy. And because of that, paired with the personality of the founder, there was a lot of stress. Always. Most of the time, that stress motivated me to perform, but that didn't mean it was a good place to work. Eventually, the environment grew so toxic, that I left.
The second dessert “restaurant” I worked at was a cookie store. I’m not sure what people think of when they think of cookie stores, but I can tell you that our store had the highest sales for the franchise in the country. Again, high stress. And again, that stress motivated me to perform. The difference was that we laughed ALL THE TIME.
We enjoyed working together and enjoyed performing well. We turned the often monotonous work of rolling out cookie dough and grinding up cookies into fun because we had relationships with each other and enjoyed being together.
It was through these two, back to back, VERY different work environments that my value of humor began to form. I realized that I respond well and lead well when I can enjoy the work that I do AND the people that I do it with. And I’m not alone. I’m not sure that this is a universal truth, but it has certainly been true for everyone I have come into contact with. Have fun with the people you are working with!
Professionalism doesn't mean you have to take yourself seriously all of the time. Having fun with the people you work with will help maintain positivity, grow your team's culture, and keep people engaged.
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