Jeffrey Saltzman's Blog

Enhancing Organizational Performance

Sweet Dreams

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I want to build a shining city on a hill. Day-to-day sometimes you wonder what all this activity we engage in means, why are we here, what are we supposed to be accomplishing? Any rational thinking being will have thoughts like that at some point. I had a professor who once told me that neurotics build castles in the sky and psychotics live in them. Well I don’t think I am neurotic or psychotic, but I want to build, to create, a shining city on a hill. What do I mean by that? I would like to be part of creating an environment where people are excited about being part of something truly special. Where each and every member has opportunities excel and to develop to their fullest potential. Where they can not only contribute organizationally to the fullest extent they can and are not simply rewarded for their efforts but feel rewarded by their efforts. Where people feel like their efforts have an impact on benefiting humanity broadly. I want to build an organization where people can be intellectually stimulated to question and probe why things are done the way they are in the spirit of continual improvement not only for the organization but for those served by the organization as well. I want them and I guess by extension myself to feel like what we are doing really matters in the greater scheme of things. I want people to laugh to have joy at and in their work. Is this a general path to fulfillment or simply my own path? 

The other night we were traveling out of town for a family event. When we got to the hotel I was pretty exhausted by the long drive. We had dinner with some relatives and after that I was more or less ready to put my head on the pillow and get some shut eye. At the hotel our room had one king sized bed. So my wife and I along with my 8 year old decided to all just share one bed rather then opening the couch up. We all fell asleep rather quickly and after a few hours I was awakened by my daughter laughing in her sleep. I lay there listening to her laughter and realized that I would be very content to listen to her laugh, listen to her sweet dreams all night long. I was pretty sure I would be up in the morning feeling refreshed from that experience. Even now as I think of it, it brings a smile to my face.

Building an organization where people can laugh, where there is a joy to the work may be a critical aspect of organizational development that is often overlooked. There are however some advocates of laughter at work. For instance the Global Coaches Network on their website claims that:

  • laughter increases productivity
  • those who laugh out loud are more creative at problem solving than those who don’t
  • those who laugh have better memory retention than those who don’t
  • those who laugh have less stress, and miss less time from work than those who don’t
  • laughter is a major coping mechanism
  • those who laugh together may work more effectively together than those who don’t.

I don’t know if these statements are backed up by research but they certainly feel right. It reminds me of the old vaudeville joke. A man walks into the doctor’s office saying, “doctor, doctor it hurts when I do this” (picture man bending his arm) and of course the doctor’s response is “don’t do that”. Well when we laugh at work we are running into the doctor’s office saying “doctor, doctor I feel better when I laugh” and the response from the doctor (in this case I like to picture the doctor as an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist) is “you should laugh more”.

I can’t imagine that I am alone in wishing for this sweet dream and I hope there are many of you out there who are interested in laughing some more and finding joy in and at our work.

Written by Jeffrey M. Saltzman

November 21, 2009 at 8:01 am

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