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I recently came across an article about humour in the workplace and it made me feel a sense of relief. A relief that my liking for humour and “positive energy” in the workplace is getting some kind of official thumbs up for driving a positive culture. "A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done." —Dwight D. Eisenhower
Michael Kerr, author of The Humor Advantage, says the amount or type of humour you will find in any given workplace depends almost entirely on the culture. “In workplaces that encourage people to be themselves—that are less hierarchical and more innovative—people tend to be more open with their humor,” he says. “Even people who aren’t always comfortable sharing their humor tend to do so in more relaxed environments where the use of humor becomes second nature with everyone’s style”.
An podcast episode on Hidden Brain called Humor Us says being serious and professional at work sometimes means not telling jokes, but in a way, that is not bringing your whole self to work, because humour is not just about cracking jokes around in the workplace but having humour is being “human”. When we laugh, we connect and bond with others. Feelings of divisiveness and social isolation can be decreased by laughting together. Sharing a laugh shortens the distance between two people. Using humour strategically and thoughtfully can create a more inclusive environment, and help us feel we are on the same team.
Behavioural scientist and author of Humor, Seriously, Jennifer Aaker says humour can be a superpower at work. Laughter can decrease stress and diffuse tension in challenging situations. Self-deprecation and self-awareness in high-status contexts is incredible at shortening the distance between two parties, and makes people much more approachable. Humour increases the feelings of trust, and can help people feel more engaged at work. Humour can help people remember what you have to say, because dopamine is released when you laugh, and dopamine is connected to memory and information retention. So this is not just a way to have more fun while we present or while we are at work, it is also a really powerful way to have people remember what we've said. John Oliver from Last Week Tonight is a great example of using humour to get a message across.
Offensive or hurtful jokes are inappropriate, particularly in a work setting Jokes are unacceptable when they punch down, using humour against someone without the same privileges you have. But humour itself is not inappropriate at work. And generally, if you remove the punchline from the joke, and the truth still stands, there is integrity in what was said.
When we work and communicate with others asynchronously, we lose the physical cues of the effects our words have on other people. We should be more careful in the words we chose to use. Humour and laughter are even more important when we are down and can bring us all closer together, even during lockdowns.
Elle was recently on the Victorian Government's Industry Advisory Panel to help assess digital skills and training courses for the new Digital Skills and Jobs Program. There is a need for more technology workers and the government is investing in training career changers. The program includes 12 weeks of course work and 12 weeks of internships that will be rolled out over the next few months. So if you or anyone you know who would benefit from this initiative, go to this website for more information.
Dates for our workshops are up and available to book on our website. Here are the list of our upcoming workshops:
Our first Blackmill Leadership Hub cohort is starting on the 14th of July. A monthly subscription will include: live weekly 75 minute sessions, a summary of key takeaways for each session, and access to an online community for continued support.
Session topics will be driven by the needs of the members but conversations will likely include psychology of leadership, strategies for leading people, growing your team culture, fostering an inclusive work culture, async work practices, role matrices, and more.
To join the leadership hub, you need to fill out a short questionaire and a possible chat with us to see if Blackmill Leadership Hub is right for you. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. To apply, visit https://blackmill.co/do/leadership-hub
This month on Blackmill’s blog, Elle writes about growing your leadership style and how to develop your leadership style.
In Don’t stall your burnout recovery, Nickolas Means reminds us that even in the middle of a pandemic, when our resilience is at all time low, we can still recover from burnout. Don’t ignore the warning signs and take care of yourself.
A Rubric for Evaluating Team Members’ Contributions to an Inclusive Culture - five skills that your employees need to contribute to an inclusive company culture are moderation, soliciting opinions, attribution, most advanced assumption, and capitalising on alternative perspectives. And part of the solution is setting values for each skill to monitor and collect data so that trends can emerge.
I Got 99 Problems And Your Hiring Practices Are All Of Them (Part 1) lists so many valid problems we see in organisations to work with (nudge: we have a workshop on how to improve your hiring practices, did we mention that?)
Failed #SquadGoals discusses the oversights in Spotify’s squads model and why the model failed. “Collaboration is a skill that requires knowledge and practice. Managers should not assume people have an existing comprehension of Agile practices.”
How to Lose a Chief Diversity Officer in 6 Months is told in a cynical voice but still tells a sad story of companies that do not live up to their words.
I’m the CTO (although that sounds ridiculous) of two Rails-based software businesses run by a single team; CoverageBook and AnswerThePublic. I also run conferences, most consistently Brighton Ruby, as well as do a bit of public speaking at other events, and I email a short programming tip every fortnight at One Ruby Thing.
The challenge we’ve set ourselves is to stay small. We’re a company of ten, with a product team of six. All working 4 days a week. This has huge benefits: strong team relationships, the ability to run the organisation profitably and I even still get to do design and development work alongside corralling the team.
That said it is hard, with our limited headcount, to make sure we’re working on the right stuff and making sure we don’t stress ourselves out at all the ideas we’re not doing. For me, the breadth and variety of the work across two businesses and the balance of doing work and supporting the rest of the team is constant personal challenge.
I’m passionate about focussing on making “the everyday” pretty great. That’s kind of the point for me; you have to enjoy what you’re doing, most of the time, else life is wasting.
I try avoiding delaying fun stuff as well as balancing the need to do stuff that might not be much fun in the moment but that will keep life decent in the medium term. So some kind of balanced, thoughtful, everyday hedonism?
The ongoing work of supporting over 3,000 teams with our software. It’s not life changing stuff, but it’s of good quality and removes a bunch of shit work from lots of people’s jobs.
I love the achievement of doing things with a tiny team, but it still feeling easy enough to believe I (and the team) are somewhat “cheating” at life.
I wish life were that easy that I could make a commitment to not repeating my mistakes.
I’d like to say I’ll never work five days a week for someone else. Since my kids were born I’ve mostly worked 4 day weeks to leave time to do non-work, family and work-adjacent (conferences, writing) things.
A four-day week is pretty transformative, as well as a huge privilege. It leaves room for “the things you don’t have time for” even if some Wednesdays that’s just a few hours of video games.
I try and exercise most days, plus a bit of yoga-ish stretching.
Even though I’m a very grumpy runner I’ve maintained the habit for a few years to stay fit enough to play continue to play football. I’m now at the age where I have to exercise to do sport rather than do sport for exercise!
I have an on/off meditation and journalling habit which helps (when I do it).
I’ve spent a bunch of years in therapy/counselling, which has been hugely beneficial. Additionally I’ve started a weekly call with a couple of industry peers so we can rant, empathise and help each other in our respective jobs and life.
Unabashedly like the things you like without shame. Talk less, smile more.
Other people’s actions towards you are more about them than they are about you.
I wish we took the important things (the environment, fairness, health) more seriously and stop letting the unimportant things distract us.
The book Atomic Habits resonated strongly for me. The idea your actions every day are vote for the sort of person you become.
So I guess my goal is to keep doing the right stuff most days and to notice quickly when I don’t
Andy sent us this tasty recipe that works super well as a warming comfort dish if you're in winter like we are. Elle and Lachlan made it last week and it was delicious!
Thank you for showing an interest to our newsletter and we hope that you enjoyed the read. Feel free to contact us if you have any feedback, a burning question or just a recipe that you would like to share 😊.
Until next time, keep learning!
Everyone at Blackmill