What If Your Workplace Were Run Like a Hockey Game?
The NHL lockout is causing me some serious hockey withdrawal. So, I thought this would be a great time to discuss an idea I've had for some time now.
A couple of years ago, I kept getting into arguments with one of my co-workers. Being in the middle of hockey season at the time, I thought to myself: "Wouldn't it be great if I could just check this guy into the boards? Or maybe drop gloves with him and settle the argument once and for all?"
I could do all that and more if my workplace were run like a hockey game. Let's explore this workplace fantasy of mine.
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A workplace often has different groups, sections or departments that can have natural rivalries between one another:
Accounting vs. Human Resources.
Kitchen Staff vs. Wait Staff.
Deli vs. Produce.
These rivalries would be much more interesting if they were judged by athletic competition rather than workplace productivity.
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Hockey has a hierarchy. And it's no different in the workplace.
There are certain employees who are at the bottom of the totem pole, yet fill positions whose role is vital to the success of the company:
The receptionist who answers phones all day.
The cook who slaves in the hot kitchen throughout dinner service.
The construction worker who operates heavy machinery twelve hours a day.
But the culture of hockey celebrates these role players, these grinders. Maybe if the workplace were run like a hockey game, the overworked but underappreciated would receive more glory than grief.
At the top of hockey's hierarchy are the superstars. These players fill the stat sheets, steal the spotlight and hog all the glory.
The workplace has its own superstars. Except at work, they are called something different:
Just like in hockey, these individuals seem to operate by their own set of rules, and are not held accountable to the same set of standards as the lower ranking members of the company.
And just like in hockey, the workplace superstars don't handle their own dirty work.
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In hockey, the enforcers are the players tasked with protecting the superstars, as well as sending a message to players on the other team when necessary.
Enforcers exist in the workplace as well, ensuring that their bosses are insulated from the complaints of the lower ranking employees. They also free up the bosses from having to worry about discipline.
Enforcers come in all shapes and sizes in the workplace:
The manager who constantly rides you about being more productive.
The associate who yells at you over the smallest mistake.
The foreman who cusses you out in front of the whole crew.
These taskmasters are bad enough as it is. Now imagine having to fight one of them.
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Physical play would be a great way to keep workers sharp, and prevent mistakes and carelessness at work.
And this aspect of hockey would start to make work a lot more interesting, very quickly.
Show up late to work? Get slammed into a wall.
Come to a meeting unprepared? Get knocked down in the middle of the conference room.
Forget to make a pot of coffee? Better keep your head up when you enter the kitchen.
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Sometimes, certain co-workers don't get along with each other.
In fact, certain co-workers never get along with each other.
So, instead of constantly tip-toeing around each other and being passive-aggressive all day long, causing the tension to build around the workplace, why not duke it out right in the middle of the office?
Now we're talking.
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Even hockey has law and order.
The workplace does, too. But instead of being written up or getting a poor evaluation, imagine being sent to the penalty box for two, five or even 10 minutes at a time for various offenses.
That system of crime and punishment would certainly decrease productivity, but would actually improve workplace morale.
Now, employees would strive to do something wrong just to avoid working.
I would aim for the game misconduct.