The number one thing to remember when it comes to being a great boss is to just be yourself and be confident. This attitude will rub off on your employees and help create a positive environment and culture (not to mention better productivity). If you've always been the one cracking jokes, that doesn't need to stop just because you're the boss.
However, there are different levels and types of humor that may bode better in the workplace than the type of humor you use when you're not in the CEO or manager role. The key here is to not necessarily think about being yourself or not being yourself, just make sure that your humor is effective. It's not difficult and it's not something to stress out about or make unnatural, it's just something to be aware of. After all, as the CEO or manager it's your job to use all of your talents and personality in the best possible way to help the success of a business, and believe it or not, humor can really be a huge asset if used at the right time and in the right ways.
How to Make Sure You're Being Effective with Humor in the Workplace
Below are a few different things to keep in mind about how humor can work for you and your company if you're the boss:
- Use it to diffuse a bad situation. If something didn't go the way your staff wanted (for example, a pitch didn't end with a positive result), you can use humor to lighten the mood. You want to be constructive and critique performances at all times, but humor can be slipped in to help diffuse the situation and get people energized for the next project instead of depressed about the last one that didn't have the expected outcome.
- Use it as a way to energize the team. Even if the team isn't feeling down about one particular situation or thing, there are going to be times that they need a little productivity boost. If you feel energy levels dying, let your real personality overpower your corporate attitude to help get things back no track. This usually happens around the holidays, after a long week of stressful presentations or projects, or just before or after a long weekend.
- Use it to create a community. On the same note as the last point, company culture is incredibly important, and humor coming from the boss is one of the quickest ways to help create that comfortable feeling. When it comes to using humor to create a community, it helps to have time set aside for everyone to let loose and relax. For many companies this is a Happy Hour at the end of the day on Friday, a staff lunch on Wednesday's, or different company events to celebrate milestones.
- Never make fun of one person, even in good fun. It seems obvious, but it's an important point to make. This can make someone feel singled out, and while this is rarely acceptable in any situation it is especially inappropriate coming from a boss. This not only goes for one single person, but even for a client or someone who doesn't work in the office. If you accidentally slip, you have to recover quickly and not assume that the hard feels will go away, which brings us to our next point.
- Make jokes about yourself. Yourself, on the other hand, you can feel free to make fun of as much as you'd like. Don't laugh at any major mistakes you make, but feel free to laugh at the small stuff. If you laugh off too much you may come off as not being serious enough or caring about the company enough, so this may actually be an area where you need to hone in the humor.
- Know the right time for humor. Of course sad situations or times when someone is upset are inappropriate, but in the workplace you also have to gauge the energy levels of the room--particularly when energy levels are high and your team is focused. You don't ever want to break focus or cause people to get off-track. It's harder than you think!
If you need any lessons on humor in the workplace, both what you should and should not do, check out this list of great bosses from some of our favorite TV shows. I also recommend checking out this article of an interview with comedian George Wallace about humor and leadership.