Adding More Laughter is Critical to Project Management Success

Adding More Laughter is Critical to Project Management Success

Sometimes the only thing you can do is laugh. When a project isn’t working quite the way you expected. When tensions flare due to anxiety or stress of deadlines. When you’re trying to build a successful creative team. All these situations can benefit from a good sense of humor.

This is not saying that all bad situations should just be laughed off. But a positive work environment punctuated by fun and opportunities to decompress will increase the success of the team overall. But how does that happen? Humor looks different in different cultures and organizations. Maybe calling your work environment “fun” doesn’t fit with your company culture. But on any team, there are ways to make the environment more enjoyable.

Humor can make any Project Manager’s soft skills more impactful. Injecting humor into some of these areas and see how much better the results will be!

  • Communication : Adding humor to your communications will always get you more attention. Whether it’s weekly meetings, regular emails, or status reports, you can always find a place to lighten up the message.
    “Screw up once, it’s a mistake. Twice, it’s a process. Three times, it’s a policy.”
  • Team Management : Humor is an excellent way to facilitate socialization and team building. When everyone is “in” on the joke, there is natural bonding that occurs.
    “Nothing is impossible for the person who doesn’t have to do it.”
  • Leadership : The tone of any project is set at the top. A Project Manager’s leadership style will affect the stress level and ultimately the productivity of the team. Are there time’s when it has to be all business? Sure. But when it’s possible to keep it light and positive, this approach will always be a winner.
    “The person who says it will take the longest and cost the most is the only one with a clue how to do the job.”
  • Conflict Management : Easing tense situations with humor is a skill. Being able to resolve issues by lightening the mood can be extremely successful when done properly. The key is to do it without being dismissive of the issues at hand.
    “I know that you believe that you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”
  • Problem Solving and Decision-making : Humor can de-escalate conflict and positively affect creativity. It can also negatively affect those situations if used inappropriately. Understanding what will focus on the positive and help get job done will make humor an asset not a liability.
    “Too few people on a project can’t solve the problems—too many create more problems than they solve.”
  • Stress : Humor, especially when it ends in full-blown laughter, greatly helps the negative effects of stress. It can get people to be less emotional and will shift thinking in a more positive direction. But avoid using it in situations involving risks; it can result in missing important details which might be essential to safety and success.
    “A carelessly planned project will take three times longer to complete than expected. A carefully planned project will only take twice as long.”

In addition to the obvious psychological benefits, humor has tremendous medical benefits as well. Patients in hospitals have much better outcomes when they approach their illness with positivity and humor. Likewise, if a project manager shows up with a smile and a positive outlook, this will affect the attitude of the entire team and the chances of project success increases.

The benefits of humor are undeniable. Enjoy some project management humor below and share with your team!

The project manager walks into his boss’ office and says, “Here is the bottom line budget needed for the success of the project.” The boss says, “What can you do for half the money?” The project manager says, “Fail.” The boss says, “When can you get started?” The project manager says, “I think I just did.”

A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts: “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised my friend I would meet him half an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.” The man below says, “Yes, you are in a hot air balloon, hovering approximately 30 feet above this field. You are between 40 and 42 degrees North latitude, and between 58 and 60 degrees West longitude.” “You must be a programmer,” say the balloonist. “I am,” replied the man. “How did you know?” “Well,” says the balloonist, “everything you have told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and in fact I am still lost.” The man below says, “You must be a project manager.” “I am,” replies the balloonist, “but how did you know?” “Well,” says the man, “you don’t know where you are or where you are going. You have made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. The fact is you are in the exact same position you were before we met, but now it is somehow my fault.”