Thursday, July 30, 2015

Do You Have A Funny Bone?

Do you remember the game of “Operation” growing up?  The game buzzed and the patient’s nose lit up in red alert if your surgical procedure went off track using tweezers.  As a child, one thing that I always found most appealing about the game was the “funny bone”.

Naturally, I assumed everyone had a funny bone.  Okay, maybe it wasn’t in the right arm (humerus) – but I was certain that everyone had a sense of humor and loved to laugh.   I was wrong.

One of the most intriguing instruments we use in our consulting practice today is the CDR Drivers & Rewards Assessment that identifies 10 facets of intrinsic motivation or deeply imbedded life interests.  One’s need, or appreciation, for Amusement & Hedonism is one of these facets measured on a scale of 0% to 100%.  Amusement & Hedonism measures one’s needs for fun, personal indulgence, a zest for good times, and an overall philosophy of enjoying life to the fullest.  People with high scores seek a fun work environment, are usually light hearted or even jolly, may relish entertaining, maximize their vacation time, tend to be less formal, and enjoy other fun-loving types.”

People with low scores prefer a serious work environment.  Their sober approach can be effective when the tasks at hand are extremely precise or engrossing or when there is no room for interruption of thought or progress.  Surgeons, auditors, inspectors, and judges are examples of those who benefit from having a serious, poker face determination.  Frequently, rule enforcers and stewards of standards benefit from the straight-faced or solemn demeanor. 

From a leadership and work culture perspective, the gap between having a high or low Amusement & Hedonism score matters greatly. 

For example, in the financial and banking sector, successful leaders and professionals alike tend to have very low Amusement & Hedonism scores on average.  Their organizations tend to be more formal, button down, no nonsense and quite serious about the business at hand.  In fact, they can be quite task focused so that if you worked there and told a funny joke or story, this would not be a welcomed intrusion into the workspace.  Occasionally, you may encounter individuals with a dry, Bob Newhart sense of humor, but you would be hard pressed to find a fun loving jokester on display.

We had a corporate banking client in NYC who decided to go to casual business dress code rather than keeping the full dark suit attire.  This new dress code policy only lasted one week!  It made everyone too uncomfortable because it didn’t connect with the low Amusement & Hedonism scores or their need for a formal work atmosphere.  Additionally, going casual was out of kilter with their client’s expectations of a “banker.”

I once worked with a Director of Training & Development of a mid-west energy company, Ed, who had a very low score and his company, too, went to casual business dress.  I noticed during a visit that the men were wearing golf shirts and khaki slacks. Ed was not going with the flow.  He was wearing a long sleeved, stiffly starched plaid shirt, buttoned to the top, and it was over 90 degrees outside.  I asked him where his golf shirt was and he replied sternly, “Nancy it took me three weeks just to take my tie off!”  He really was not comfortable with the change.

Another VP of Leadership Development at a major medical device corporate headquarters in New Jersey scolded one of our senior consultants, Kim, who was onsite for laughing and talking with a couple employees in a fun spirited way by the water cooler near her office.  
This VP chastised, “You know, we have work around here that needs to get done.”  Kim poked her head in the VP’s office and said “And what was your Amusement & Hedonism score?”  Her score was under 5%.  Kim reminded her that spirited discussions in the workplace frequently enhance productivity for many employees.

So culturally, the Drivers & Reward needs of the employees and leaders become the living values and social environment and are the welcomed code of behaviors. 

Clearly, Southwest Airlines has had a bias in hiring flight attendants and service personnel who have an abundance of Amusement & Hedonism.  From the beginning, ...  (go here for full article)

Note:  Image of Operation Game used with written permission by Hasbro.

Women Image courtesy of Ambro at

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