Toast Note - 3 August 2017

I’ve been running a lot of change resiliency sessions lately. A few observations from that experience. Thing 1) newer, younger employees find engaging and vocalising super difficult during a soft skills training of that sort; and 2) people need to smile more. No kidding, the most surprising aspect of running these sessions is how afraid people are to smile at work. Younger people in a meeting found it especially difficult to share and to smile, but even the more experienced people found the idea of relaxing, smiling, giggling in this environment very challenging. Half the job of that session was to warm folks up and get them to relax and enjoy themselves.

Why. Why are we so serious? My team is a bit renown for how ridiculously loud we are. We’re always chatting, laughing, meercatting and drawing others into the conversation. I know that inevitably, there are people around us who must just want us to shut up. And I can see their point; We’re a bit rowdy.  On the other hand, I really like coming to work. In addition to work being both warmer and drier than my home office, I take pleasure in spending time with the people who sit near me.

So this is the other side of last week’s message, right? Last week I wanted to be at home because I am frequently super productive there – far more so than at work in the sense of measurable, tangible outputs. Now this week I wax poetic on the great personal benefit I get from being in the same physical space as people I know, respect, and purely enjoy. Now the question that bakes the noodle a bit is whether those productive sprints are somehow empowered by the non-productive but socially engaging moments in the company of my peers. How much of my effectiveness at home when I’m gazing at my navel and pumping out recommendations and presos and exercises can be attributed to the personal connections I’ve built and the non-quantifiable information exchanged during meetings and chinwags and beers after work.

Presumably we need a mixture, a balance that would be utterly dependent on our individual preferences, personality types, and role. For me, the social is like oxygen, fuelling both creativity and my genuine care for the people impacts of change, challenge and conflict. If I didn’t spend time laughing with my peers, I think I’d just crawl into a ball and shrivel up drained of every particle of mojo.

“Smiling is infectious,
You can catch it like the flu.
Someone smiled at me today, 
and I started smiling too.” ~ Anon (full poem)