I also added a little fun and playfulness to the environment. I set up a putting green and invented a game called “Putting for Product.” Team members came to ask for a piece of equipment “ whether a $2 patch cord or a $50 thousand piece of equipment. I gave them three free putts. If they sunk one of the three putts, they could take the product no questions asked. If they missed, they’d have to pay a dollar into our candy fund and putt again. Or, they could bypass all that and hire the local golf pro, one of the guys in the office who was really good at golfing, and pay him a dollar to shoot the first round for them. It was a great setting for having conversations, too. We also set up a fish bowl out in the main area so team members could acknowledge and recognize each other’s achievements. At the end of the month, at our team meeting, I’d go through this fish bowl, and the person with the most acknowledgements would be acknowledged and receive prizes, like movie passes or coupons for the concessions stand. Or, you could trade your prize, but it was like “Let’s Make a Deal,” so you didn’t know what you were trading for. It could be something really nice like clocks and watches, or silly things like gag gifts and pencils.
We also had the management team cook full breakfasts with scrambled eggs and pancakes for each team member and three of teammates of their choice.
So it was a really neat type of environment that we were creating, trying to lighten up the mood of the group. The team became more comfortable with the challenges they faced. The fun and playfulness really eased the tension that the team felt from the on-call rotation.