Think of the best day you’ve ever had a work. What sticks out in your mind? Was it about an award, promotion or bonus check you received? Or was it memorable because you were part of a fun team effort that led to an outstanding result? What stands out?
My clearest, fondest memories involve my team. A few years ago, I was out for minor surgery during a critical planning phase for an upcoming leadership event. This meeting had to be outstanding. First, the audience included the top 700 members of management from across the organization. The number of attendees + high expense = the need for flawless execution. The content had to be incredibly relevant to justify the cost of pulling all of these leaders together. Second, the meeting included 30 honorees from the front line. The Thank You portion acknowledging phenomenal performance had to be goose bump worthy. Finally, and no pressure, the CEO invited the board of directors to attend. Most of the work of my team was highly visible across the organization, but adding the board elevated things to a new level.
I asked my team to meet without me to start brainstorming. When I got an update the next day, my managers pitched me some of the best ideas they developed. The concept that I liked the most came from someone on the team who was normally very quiet. Angelica typically took everything in but was not known for contributing in the larger group. But her idea spawned other members of the team to jump in to find ways to help. Meredith wrote a script and outline for the upcoming event; Chris figured out how to enhance the meeting content with the use of creative video; and Stefanie created a master project plan to track all of the moving parts.
Individually, we might have developed a few good ideas; collectively, we generated content and an approach that stands as a template for a best-in-class learning event.
But the memorable portion didn’t end there. Along the way, the team had fun. We played practical jokes on each other, each one topping the previous ones. I know, practical jokes have no place in the office. Bull crap. Practical jokes can serve as fuel for creative thinking. And we had a lot of fuel.
I took some time off following the event to reintroduce myself to my kids that I had neglected during the crunch time. When I returned to the office, my team had a little surprise for me. Running a little late after taking time off, I scrambled to get to my office for a 9:00 AM interview to fill a position. My door was locked. Fumbling for my keys, I opened my door and nearly went blind. My team had wrapped my entire office and all of my possessions in foil!
Engaged employees don’t just do the work that’s required; rather, they give a little extra. Yes, you’ll remember a promotion or money, but what makes for a truly memorable experience is the people who made the journey seem more like play than work. Often, the environment that finds a way to make work more like play will create more memories and outstanding outcomes than one that all about the work.
Oh, and my 9:00 AM interview? She thought my office was the coolest thing she’d ever seen, and she told me that she wanted to work in this kind of environment. She got the job…
Tell me about your best day at work? What happened? And what are you doing to make a day like that happen again very soon?