Is culture equivalent to fun?

What does a great team culture look like in our minds? Is it about connection, vision, purpose — feeling close, safe, with a shared future? Everyone’s fun loving, nice and happy, we’re shooting nerf guns at each other, playing table tennis, playing mario kart- happy and fun! Is something missing?

Personally I don’t view culture as an equivalent of fun. I see many companies seeing culture and fun as one and the same thing. Great culture means that you enjoying working there, it means working on hard problems together. It’s a place where getting things done is fun! In my previous blog (read here) I was comparing a team culture to family. Is a family always about fun? In my family it has not always been about fun, sometimes it was such hussle (especially in those puberty years …haha). Sometimes I would say: “I wish I would born in different family” …silly me :-) … Sometimes, you wish to quit, right? But you can’t you are connected with them, with your family members, so you continue and work things out. It’s a love-hate or push-pull relationship. And that’s what you get when you have a great team culture, that what means be engaged with your team at work, with your colleagues, with your work.

In every company a great culture can differ. What you would like to see in companies is that people are sort of engaged — work is exciting, thrilling, engaging. But you see kind of two types of fun — As Daniel Coyle, described it: “there’s the shallow fun, which is Nerf, and foosball, and laughter. And there’s deep fun where you’re owning a problem, wrestling with it together, and working with excellent people”

For me it doesn’t only mean playing table tennis, table football, mario kart or nerf guns etc. Have you ever experienced being part of the culture or team where you would feel demotivated, you would feel cynicism, work is not done, you are late with delivery results and emotionally drained by the people you work with? Would you play games? Is it fun? No, I don’t think so. (In my next post, you can make sure, how such a toxic culture looks like and confirm to yourself that it’s not fun.)

On the other hand, have you ever been part of a company where everyone and everything just seemed be right? For me work is work. People are motivated to perform, finish tasks, or get things done. When you are part of great team culture the work becomes fun and the results of your work are also fun. And it’s fun when everyone in the company or in your team function the same way as one team=one family. Fun is a product of great culture. Not other way around. Great culture means commitment and involvement with people working to shared values.

  • Team should be focused on values
  • Review people based on values
  • Compensate people around these values
  • Fired people around them

As Vanderbloemen said, defining a culture “defining our kind of crazy” is all about finding out your “team’s core values” and “when we’re at our best, what do we do that’s common to us but uncommon to other teams around us?” The answers, values and behaviour of the values creates the feeling of being part of a family.

Almost every company has defined values but are they really working with them, are they really practicing them? To see if a company has a great culture or has a shallow culture, you should check if they live their company values and are engaged with them.

There is no such thing as a perfect culture! Everybody struggles. It’s not easy to always do the right things. And that’s ok. If you for example are trying to lose weight, it’s not always easy to eat healthy and exercise simultaneously. So while you are trying to follow your dream to “lose weight”(as I’ve tried several times by myself), you would have moments where you might struggle. But with the right support of your friend (team or culture) you would be back on track. People can do so much more with the right support. Even with these bad moments, you can get results and lose weight as you wanted. It happened to me finally some time ago, so it could happen to you too and to your team and company’s culture. As a team following a shared connection, vision and purpose, you can achieve goals while sometimes not doing the right thing- it’s a learning process of improving and getting better.

Last Thought: Get to work, get things done and have fun! And be sure that you have exactly that. Because having fun is important. Organizations that take breaks to rest and play are actually more productive and creative.

Cheers, Eva ;-)