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Balance intense, bottom-line focus with a dose of fun

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Most employees carry anxieties and distractions from their personal lives into the workplace. Perhaps they're facing eldercare issues or relationship problems with family members.

If you maintain a hard-driving, all-business-all-the-time personality, you may lose a chance to extract extra effort from your team. It's better to project good-natured humor that raises everyone's comfort level.

Fun is among the most overlooked motivators. By setting the stage for peers to laugh with one another in a supportive environment, you enable them to build camaraderie.

'If people come to a place that they regard as fun, entertaining and stimulating, their minds are turned on," said Herb Kelleher, co-founder and chairman emeritus of Southwest Airlines. Here are some ways to follow Kelleher's advice:

Create a game room.

It sounds counterintuitive to encourage recreational diversions at work, but it actually sends just the right motivational message to staffers: You want to provide a healthy way for them to unwind on occasion from job pressures.

Set up a soundproof room with a ping-pong table and word games such as Boggle and Bananagrams. Allow people to police themselves; don’t have them clock in and out whenever they take a break. As long as you measure productivity using clear standards, it shouldn't matter if people goof off occasionally on company time.

Personalize meetings.

Pose a question such as "What's the happiest moment of your week so far?" at your next meeting. Have people share their answers before you turn to business.

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