The Unexpected Joys

In the office at Legion, we often plan big fun things for the company to do together – trips to the ballpark, Casino Nights, go-karting, etc. We do this to reward people for their hard work, to build team camaraderie around the office, and to provide a break in the stress that our industry has.

These events cost a ton of money and take months to plan, and everyone has a great time, which is the point. But every once in a while, I’m flabbergasted when something we just throw together turns into a wonderful team-building event, unintentionally. It’s like when you have kids and you spend months planning the perfect day out or vacation but the day you just spend baking cookies and snuggling in front of the TV watching movies turns out to be the memory you carry with you forever.

I was reminded of this today. We put up the world’s ugliest white holiday tree in our office and decorated it with leftover ornaments and tinsel that people bring in from their houses. Nothing matches and it looks pretty sad, but it’s our best attempt to decorate for the holidays (we’re not really Pinterest masters here.) Last year, our marketing department had the idea to have everyone color a wooden picture frame ornament, put their headshot in it and then hang it on the tree. It was a total bust. No one wanted to do it, and we had to force people to participate.

Fast forward a year. I came into the office this morning and was informed that our lame tree would be here this afternoon, ready to decorate. I turned to Andi, my assistant, and told her what we’d done last year and since she was running errands anyhow, could she stop at the craft store and pick up some wooden ornaments to color? Maybe people would want to do it. When she got back from the store, I sent an email to the staff saying that if they wanted to make an ornament, the markers and ornaments would be by my desk.

Then I went to lunch.

When I came back, three employees were huddled around a table right inside the front door, coloring furiously. Two more were lined up by my desk, selecting their ornaments. The sales floor was quiet except for phone calls as our Problem Solvers snuck coloring in between phone calls and dealing with issues. And the pile of ornaments on Andi’s desk is growing, and it’s beautiful. As usual, my employees have turned it into a competition to see who can color the most amazing Festivus ornament possible. They are relentlessly competitive, if nothing else.

Seeing this excitement and happiness from a tossed-off comment and thrown-together activity serves as a reminder (and one that seems cheesily appropriate for the season) that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars or months of time to put together an event that will make your employees feel good, bring them together, or improve morale. Sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference.

by Lacy Starling, President and Fearless Leader