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Interview with Bob Pike, author of The Fun Minute Manager

Bob Pike is chairman and CEO of The Bob Pike Group and has consulted on training and performance improvement since 1969 with organizations like IBM, AT&T, Hallmark Cards, the USMC, the Joint Military Agency, Microsoft, and Pfizer. He is the author or co-author of 29 books, including the best-selling Creative Training Techniques Handbook and Dealing with Difficult Participants. More than 125,000 trainers on five continents have attended his multi-day train-the-training workshops. (His website.)

Tell us about your latest book,The Fun Minute Manager.

The Fun Minute Manager is a business fable in the style of Ken Blanchard’s The One Minute Manager (Ken and I have been friends for more than 20 years – and he wrote a wonderful forward to the book, by the way.) The principal character, Bob Workman, wonders why he finds fun at his civic club but not at work. He wonders why friends have created fun work environments that have improved productivity in the challenging work environments at their organizations – and he and his people seem to only derive stress from their challenges. The result is a series of events that allow Bob and his people to transform their work environment and increase productivity and customer satisfaction while having fun at work.

Everybody wants to have fun, but just don’t have it at work. Why not?

While making time for “fun” has not been viewed as a traditional role of a manager, smart managers will gain big dividends (ROI) when employee spirits are lifted–and they are reminded of their value to their manager, their organization and to each other.

This same smart manager will also discover that fun at work:
• Reduces stress,
• Energizes employees and lowers turnovers,
• Improved both employee and customer satisfaction,
• Lowers absenteeism and increases productivity, and
• Creates employee loyalty and group cohesiveness.

Why is fun at work important to an organization – and how can managers make it happen?

Any business owner or manager can learn relevant ways to bring fun into the workplace. The Fun Minute Manager endorses the concept of having a fun component as part of developing any skill. Based on major research and our vast work experience, the book explains how having fun at work is a primary need among employees. Creating a fun work environment is worth the time and effort for any company. Managers that care about their employees AND their bottom line will find practical, timely and concise ideas you can implement easily and without any excessive time and costs.

What exactly is “fun at work”?

First, let’s get rid of either/or thinking. It is not fun or productivity – you don’t have to make a choice. It can be fun AND productivity. My colleagues John Newstrom, PhD and Robert Ford, PhD and I have identified some simple strategies that can (and have) been implemented in almost any work environment you can imagine. A fun work environment is one in which a variety of formal and informal activities regularly occur that are designed to uplift people’s spirits and positively and publicly remind people of their value to their managers, their organization, and to each other through the use of humor, playful games, joyful celebrations, opportunities for self development, or recognition of achievements and milestones.

Doesn’t that take time away from the job?

It’s less about taking up time – and more about some thoughtful planning. Here are just a few of the things people are doing right now (in order of frequency) to create a more positive, fun, work environment:

• Recognition of personal milestones (e.g., birthdays and hiring anniversaries).
• Fun social events (e.g., picnics, parties, and social gatherings).
• Public celebrations of professional achievements (e.g., award banquets).
• Opportunities for community volunteerism (e.g., civic and volunteer groups).
• Stress release activities (e.g., exercise facilities, and massages).
• Humor (e.g., cartoons, jokes in newsletters and e-mails).
• Games (e.g., darts, bingo, and company-sponsored athletic teams).
• Friendly competitions among employees (e.g., attendance and sales contests).
• Opportunities for personal development (e.g., quilting class and book club).
• Entertainment (e.g., bands, skits, and plays).

About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.