Friday, 23 September 2011

The difference between work and play

I use action methods to improve communication and reduce conflict in the workplace. Using play methodology can often move past barriers that have appeared to be set in concrete. But these methods still rely on a shared understanding of why we are at work and how adults at work behave. It is an interesting paradox that whilst asking people to relax and enjoy being playful this is to improve performance at work. An increasing number of employees either do not know the boundaries between work and personal life or just ignore them.
When we go to work we are exchanging our time and skills usually for money. It isn't slavery largely thanks to some serious work put in over the years by various unions and supporting legislation. This does mean we are answerable to others and have to abide by rules around attendance, behaviour and dress as well as what we achieve.
This may well sound like stating – as Basil Fawlty says “The bleedin' obvious”, but recently I have dealt with people who have said how bad the workplace was. On talking with them it becomes clear that the badness was “Not sitting where I want”, “Not getting to do the bits of my job I like”, “Having to arrive at the same time every day”, “Interrupting my face book updates”,and “Having to wear something other than a stained track suit just because I'm a receptionist”.
All the people concerned had applied for their jobs, read the relevant policies and agreed to them but all had suffered a catastrophic memory failure almost immediately. All felt they could do things as they wished.The idea that someone might have the responsibility for their work and therefore the right to question them about it was unacceptable to all. They all either owned the role outright or felt that any discussion of performance was intrusive and cruel.
At this point I realised that my default state was becoming increasingly grumpy.
I want us all to achieve at work and enjoy it as much as possible. I work at shifting barriers and building effective working relationships. This is based on everyone being a grown-up for most of the time. The methodology is based in play not childishness. We can be adult and use play techniques at work. What we can't do is go to work and only do what we want.

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