Harvey Mackay who is a best-selling author and top business motivational speaker, emphasizes “fun at work” in his latest article “Fun and Work go hand in hand“. He justifies this argument by providing anecdotes from successful businesspeople and from survey results of management research companies.
I admire fun at work. I know that most of the people likes to work with people who have a good sense of humor because this type of attitude diminishes stress, spreads positive energy and inspires people to perform better. Although I agree with Mackay that leaders should create and continuously support a positive work environment, I think his most interesting story is not relevant with the idea. Here is the story from Mackay:
In his book, The 13 Secrets of Power Performance, author and trainer Roger Dawson tells the story of a meeting between two iconic figures in the restaurant industry: Tom Monaghan, CEO and founder of Domino’s Pizza, and Ray Kroc, CEO of McDonald’s.
Kroc’s assistant had scheduled a 15-minute meeting, but it turned into a 2 1/2-hour mutual admiration session. Kroc peppered Monaghan with questions about his operation and impressed Monaghan with how quickly he caught on. “In no time at all he understood Domino’s as well as anyone except me,” Monaghan said.
Finally, Kroc leaned forward in his chair. “I’m going to give you some advice,” he said. “You have it made now. You can do anything you want; make all the money you can possibly spend. So what I think you should do now is slow down. Take it easy. Open a few stores every year, but be careful. Don’t make any new deals that could get you into trouble. Play it safe.”
Such conservatism was the last thing Monaghan expected to hear from his hero. After a moment of indecision he blurted out, “But that wouldn’t be any fun!”
Monaghan’s answer is not related with fun. The fundamental concept is not FUN here. It is about ABANDONMENT. Monaghan had no choice; he should not agree with Kroc who implies “giving up”, “retirement” or “abandonment”. He had to resist to the “advice” of Kroc. He could not accept the idea to “slow down” even if he thinks so. He could have admit slowing down to a friend of him during a private talk. But this is absolutely not a private session.
If he had recognized the idea (e.g. by nodding and saying “yes, you are right”), what message would be disseminated to the customers and all of the stakeholders of Domino’s? So his response should be different. He should respond intelligently. He should stay calm and must find a “smart” response. That is the reason he paused. I consider his pause not a sign of indecision as Mackey writes; but as a signal to find a smart and kind objection to Kroc’s idea. And he responded marvelously.
As a conclusion, I agree the idea that fun at work is a nice thing. “Fun” and “Work” is not oxymoron. But the story that Mackey excerpted from Roger Dawson is not related with fun. Mackey is a successful and intelligent author. He could be more cautious when selecting the stories supporting his idea.