By Chuck Violand

February 17, 2014

At the risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon with respect to business, whatever happened to the notion that hard work itself is rewarding enough? And who was the Commissioner of Common Sense when the workplace morphed into a playground where everything has to be fun or we fear being able to get people to do their jobs?

If you’re the CEO of your company, and you’ve held that job for any length of time, you know your title is not Chief Executive Fungineer (CEF), and you’re not in charge of the basketball hoop, miniature golf layout, or foosball equipment in the office. You are not the President of Pleasure (POP), responsible for supplying the booze and snacks for after-hours parties. Your job is to be sure you make the right calls every day so your customers are thrilled with your service. That helps to ensure that everyone at your company has jobs tomorrow, next month, next year, and if all the planets line up, people can actually raise families and build futures through your employment. If that means we have fun while we’re doing this, then great. I’m all about having fun. But if that means we have to work hard to accomplish this, then that’s great too, because I’m all about working hard.

There’s a difference between having fun and feeling rewarded at work. Sucking sewerage from a frozen basement in the middle of the night isn’t fun. It’s bone numbing and dangerous work, but we do it anyway because we’re rewarded handsomely both financially and emotionally by customers who put their complete faith in us.

Making sales calls on prospects who have told us three times before that they don’t want to buy from us isn’t fun. It has a way of draining our energy and positive attitude, but we do it anyway because we just might be rewarded with additional business and work that keeps our employees busy.

Walking into yet another bank in search of growth capital for our business after the last three banks have turned us down isn’t fun. It leaves us with emotional scars, but we do it anyway because we keep chasing that dream of future rewards…and maybe because we have a payroll that needs to be met now.

Having to apologize to a customer after our company screwed up their job, give them their money back, and hope they’ll agree to continue doing business with us (or at least not bad-mouth us on the internet) isn’t fun. It reminds us just what humility is all about and we do it because it’s the right thing to do.

Please don’t get me wrong. I absolutely agree that people work better and more efficiently when they enjoy their work and they’re having fun. I happen to be one of those people. And when my company is making money I have even more fun because I can happily report to my people that we’ll all have jobs tomorrow.

Forgive me if I don’t count myself among those CEO’s who are busy planning their next company Brewfest as “Chief Entertainment Officer” of their companies. I’ll just keep working away at building my business. I still find that rewarding…and fun.