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How important is play in your work values?

The latest cohort of NLP Master Practitioners will be graduating next week, and recently we spent some time talking about values. We were looking at personal values, Graves values levels and how they impact on the business world, and the discussion was fascinating. One of the students wanted some extra practice so she had a go at eliciting my work values. And play, or fun, is important to me in a job.

We know how important it is for young children to learn through play. Sandpits, and water play, dressing up and play dough. And then learning begins to feel more formal and sometimes the sense of fun gets lost. Lessons that were fun are more memorable, and learning takes place without it feeling quite so hard. So whenever I am delivering training we keep things as much fun as possible and encourage the students to 'play'.

Feeling free to experiment, try out new things, and knowing that its ok if sometimes they don't turn out quite as you planned first time are all part of learning. Sometimes we lose sight of that as adults. But not everyone learns by getting it right first time, many people learn so much more through their mistakes, that it's important to create an environment where that is not only accepted but supported.

So do you have fun in your company values? There is plenty of research to show that employees who are happy at work are more engaged and productive. They stay longer and are more committed to organisational goals. And that set me wondering how we create an environment where people can have fun at work.

Everyone has a different sense of humour, and we certainly don't all find the same things funny, so a sense of fun at work is more than, and different to, a sense of humour. Its also more than social events, or lunch time game sessions, although those things really help too. Fun and play, for me, is more about not taking yourself too seriously, and creating a friendly environment where people like to be. Where it is ok to be you, whoever you believe you are, to be accepted, and celebrated for the difference you bring.

We need to get back to learning through play, learning by experimenting with new things, knowing they may not go the way we want first time, and that its ok to try again. To create an environment where people feel safe to learn, supported and challenged in equal measure. If you are seeking to lead in an environment like this, perhaps its also time to take up some executive coaching to reflect on what you want to achieve and how your leadership style can enable success. Contact us to find out more.

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