It’s a phrase often quoted about families that ‘the family that plays together stays together’ but it also applies to any relationship whether that’s as a couple or a team within an organisation. Because play is something we all did naturally as a child and would have given us our happiest memories … but we grow out of play as we get older and into life taking on responsibility in our jobs or businesses.

But why do we do this when play is such an innate quality that gives us so much pleasure? After all, a happy team is a productive team. And an away day with your team can really lift the team spirits within an organisation.

Lifting the team spirit every now and again might be okay but wouldn’t it be better to embrace a spirit of joy and happiness in work as part of the overall culture? And that’s where the problem lies because often play is associated with not getting the job done or messing around. And if you think back to some of your greatest childhood times during play a lot of the things you did would have had structure. For instance, a time when you belonged to a baseball, tennis or hockey team. Or perhaps swimming lessons where you learned to swim and also incorporated play into the lesson. Even when you played Cowboys and Indians or Cops and Robbers, you would have had a structure and set the rules of the game. And it’s the same in your workplace.

Building a team culture which incorporates play means having people feel as though they’re in the right place, at the right time, and they’re able to use their skills and capabilities to shine. And in doing so, they get praise for that. And what happens is they will be prepared to go the extra mile and step up to the challenges facing the organisation. But people need a firm structure which they all understand as a team and are committed to as an individual.

Rather than isolating the business from the people, there is a need to understand, nurture and embrace the essence of the people and bring them into the business. Have a firm structure but allow them to be who they are meant to be. It makes a big difference.

Article by: Wendy Howard,

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