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This Is How You Use Humor as a Management Tool

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I’ve often heard managers say that their job should be to model and motivate hard-working behavior toward common goals, not to run around having fun. These managers remain convinced that there’s no place for fun on the job. And yet, given all the benefits to be derived from bringing humor and a lighter attitude to one’s work, it’s clear that managers should begin thinking of humor skills as a management tool.

In addition to helping employees cope with change, humor is the only management tool you’ll ever find that will do all the following: Strengthen bonds between co-workers, create rapport with customers, get and hold attention, strengthen memory of the points you want to be remembered, persuade others to see (and perhaps adopt) your point of view, make awkward communications less difficult, deflect criticism, reduce tension, frustration and anger, manage conflicts, reduce burnout, remove intimidating barriers between management and non-management employees, bolster eroding trust, boost morale and motivate employees, build resilience, stimulate creative problem solving, sustain a positive attitude on the job, and keep everyday hassles and problems in perspective.

Following a systematic discussion of issues related to humor and corporate culture, Wilburn Clouse and Karen Spurgeon concluded that it is

“. . . amazing that a well-developed sense of humor application is not a requirement for all leadership positions. Used appropriately, humor removes intimidation, stimulates creativity, encourages communication, and permits the employees to appreciate the work situation . . . Part of the responsibility of effective leadership includes building a culture that supports a positive working environment to carry organizations successfully into the next century. Leadership that encourages self-esteem, cooperation, creative thinking, job satisfaction, and a place where people want to be is the emerging demand from the work force. Leadership that increases productivity and profit is the emerging demand from corporate owners and executives . .  humor must be part of the solution(emphasis added by McGhee).”1

Leadership today is in turmoil as the transition from a hierarchical top-down structure to a flatter system continues. Each company must find its own path in dealing with all the issues resulting from this change. Because of the many benefits that result from learning to lighten up on the job, it is increasingly being viewed as essential to hire managers who have a good sense of humor themselves, and know how to sustain a lighter attitude on the job among those who work with and under them.

To be effective as a manager, you must be able to communicate your mission effectively, provide employees with the skills required to reach that mission, show that you’re part of the team by being approachable and accessible, create a work environment that helps employees perform at peak levels and continue to provide quality service as the bar is raised higher and higher, nurture creativity, and adopt a “communication style” that makes employees feel comfortable in bringing new ideas to you. Good humor skills help assure that you’ll succeed in each of these areas.

McGuffey’s Restaurants have no doubts about the importance of making work fun. Managers are evaluated on how much fun they are to work with (this accounts for 20% of their raise). According to Keith Dunn, the president of the company, “We’re in a service business with high turnover. It’s part of a manager’s job to bring fun to the workplace.”2 In recent years, Hewlett-Packard managers have also been evaluated on their ability to create enthusiasm among employees. Building fun and humor into the corporate culture insures that this enthusiasm exists.

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Funny Weirdo Haircuts Drive Us Nuts!

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The problem with young people today is that they have crazy haircuts.

In my day, a lad had two choices for a haircut – a crew cut or a flat top and both cost 50 cents. You went to the barber every Saturday morning with your old dad, had your ears raised and were grateful to look like every other kid on your block.

But these young people today. They all want to “express themselves” with their weirdo hairdos!

They walk around with their spiky bangs, corn rows, streaky uplifts, mohawks, faux hawks and wigged out sideburns. It’s a carnival freak show but without the popcorn.

If I had ever come home with a multi-colored mullet and a bum fluff goatee my old dad would have used me as a stump and split a cord of wood on my back.

It’s showy and disrespectful. Plumped and preening like a bunch of randy roosters let loose in a hen house. Disgraceful. I say they should round those damned young people up and sheer them down like the sheep they’re supposed to be.

It’s dangerous I tell you and it leads to anarchy and loose morals. It won’t be long before willy nilly hair styles aren’t enough for them anymore and they start frothing at the mouth, burning down post offices, practicing communism and forcing seniors to sport dreadlocks, rattails, moptops and worse.

And mark my god damned words, when that day comes we are all going to be well and truly sorry.

They have crazy haircuts. That’s the problem with young people today.

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Oh God! Young People Need to Toughen the Hell Up

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The problem with young people today is that they’re too damned soft.

In my day, young people were tough, damn it. We were gristly, sinewy and hard as nails. My generation was forged in a furnace of fiery parents, sweltering outhouses, creamed chip beef and the type of childhood diseases that either killed you or put some damned hair on your chest.

We had to be hard – conditions demanded it. There was no room for mollycoddling and teenaged slackassery. We couldn’t lie around in our underpants all day levelling up in Donkey Kong and text messaging our idiot friends. We were too busy rendering sheep fat, toting ice blocks and extracting our own teeth for that kind of foolishness. Our “down time” was getting dressed up in flour sack suits and attending the funerals of siblings who had died of dust pneumonia.

But these young people today? They’re marshmallows. And the similarity extends beyond their squishy plumpness and incredible lack of taste. Most have never done a lick of honest work and wouldn’t recognized a calloused palm if you clapped them across the ear with one.

They don’t understand what it means to sacrifice or to go without. For them, sacrifice is eating an unfrosted pop tart, fornicating with an unflavored condom or settling for less than an unlimited phone plan. Take away their cushy duvets, parental fawning and Junior Shopper credit cards and they wouldn’t last 5 damned minutes in the cold hard world.

And they’re emotionally soft too. Call a young person a worthless ninnyhammer and he’ll whinge, cry and fold up like a house of cards just to prove you right. Criticism’s considered some form of abuse instead of what it’s supposed to be – a practical assessment of your obvious limitations and some damned motivation to prove me wrong.

Face facts, this country is deep in the toilet and one flush away from becoming “Runningdoghai” the 23rd Province of the People’s Republic of China. If we ever want to return our nation to its former glory we need to stop raising a generation of spongy cry-babies and get back to work on hardening our resolve, our bodies and our minds.

They’re too damned soft. That’s the problem with young people today.

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Sensible Careers – A Joke!

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It’s high time we brought back good old fashioned jobs like costermongers, spittleman, wheeltappers, pettifoggers, pig jobbers, quarrel pickers and knock knobblers.

American Barbershop Idol

Surely to God we’ve exhausted this nation’s supply of caterwauling nancy boys and are ready to bring some damned decent singing back to the national stage. Four part harmonies plus straw boaters equals toe-tapping, good clean family fun.

Cursive Writing

And I don’t mean swearing. I mean putting pen to paper. They may be able to text 80 words a minute but ask them write a sentence longhand and it comes out looking like something a chimp would produce with a pointed stick and mitt full of mashed blackberries.

The Power of Positive Gumption

All this new age, positive-thinking hokum smacks me as being the worst kind of bumph since Clark Stanley sold his first bottle of snake oil elixir back in 1893.

Positive thinking as a means to an end is like the American Dream – it’s fine in theory but really only helpful to those with good genes, rich families and access to a decent education. For everyone else – it’s sleight of hand and empty platitudes.

For 2012, instead of folks assuming they can set their life right with little more than a combination of visualizations, affirmations and positive mental brainwaves, I’d like to see people attempting to set reasonable goals and then achieving them through a combination of hard work, determination and the power of positive gumption.

Enjoy your New Year’s Eve but keep the damned noise down. I’ll be in bed by 9:30.

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About the Humor Column

We give you a reason to laugh all day.

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info@mashcolumn.com

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