Horse play isn’t fun for anyone

Adam, a pipe fitter journeyman for an industrial general contractor headquartered in Vancouver, WA told Session 2B of the Leadership Development Lab (LDL):

‘I’m a bit of a practical joker. Back in 2015, I was working in our Fab Shop. I wanted to get the best of my buddy Matt. I had a drill with a vari-bit and I thought I would scare Matt by poking him with the drill bit and then pulling the trigger. Well, when I pulled the trigger, it completely wrapped his jeans up in the drill. By the time I got it all unraveled, his brand new jeans had a huge, gaping hole in them. So, I had to go to Fred Meyer on my lunch break and buy him a new pair of Cargill jeans for $50!

‘The lesson I learned from this experience is the high cost of horsing around . I am lucky I didn’t cut his leg or hurt him in some other way. I am glad Matt is so even-tempered; otherwise I could’ve gotten a punch in the nose!

‘The action I call you to take is to recognize that horse play can be dangerous. What you think of as funny could be harmful and hurtful. Stop and think: ‘How does this behavior contribute to a safe, high morale work place, the kind of safe, high morale workplace I want to be a member of?”

I have heard countless stories of horsing around with drills, staple guns and spit balls. These stories never have a happy ending. At the inception, the instigator always seems to think this will be funny but the recipient gets hurt, their feelings or fanny.

I love the idea of looking for ways to make work fun, but horse play isn’t an acceptable way to do this. You can make the workplace fun by changing routines, keeping score and celebrating success: potlucks just before the holidays, bar-b-ques on the successful completion of a challenging project. These are just a few ways to add to the esprit de corps of your team. Instead of hurting people, you will help set the pace of a fun, meaningful workplace.

Now think about it: what was one of the most fun times at work you can remember? What can you do to help create this kind of a challenging, fun, productive environment?