It seems like a simple, harmless idea. We’ll turn work
into a kind of play. Then people will like it and work harder. This is nothing
more than Theory X in sheep’s clothing.
Theory X was coined by Douglas McGregor in the 1960s. It says that
“management assumes employees are inherently lazy and will avoid work if they
can and that they inherently dislike work.” The latest variation is that people
inherently hate work and need to be tricked into enjoying themselves at work
with a program that turns work (bad) into fun (good).
People can have fun at work without the balloons and the badges. I know this
because I’ve listened to them describe a “time when it was great to come to
work.” Many of them used the very word, “fun” and they weren’t talking about a
special program, they were talking about everyday work.
People will have fun at work if they’re doing important (contributing) work
with people they like. They need goals that are clear and reasonable and
frequent feedback so they know where they stand. They need to be treated fairly.
Those things are simply “good supervision.” Good bosses create the kind of
workplace where people are productive and morale is high, the kind where people
Improve the quality of your supervision and people will have fun at work.
They’ll reap those powerful intrinsic rewards you’ve heard so much about.
If you have great supervision, you can supplement it with well-designed
incentive and rewards programs that build on what happens every day. Those
programs are a great addition to good supervision, not a substitute for it.
Boss’s Bottom Line
If you create a great working environment for your team they’ll be productive
while they reap the intrinsic rewards that make work fun.