It’s not (all) about foosball: How we bring “play” to our work

1 min read

At HWC, we frequently use the word play when describing our workplace culture and performance. It’s mentioned at pop-up meetings, in our weekly Round Up emails, and during our quarterly performance check-ins. Yet, what do we mean when we talk about play in this context?

In their book Primed to Perform, Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor discuss how high-performing cultures create conditions that inspire play and creativity and motivate employees to perform at their best. We incorporate this sense of play into our daily work at HWC from the onset.

During our goal-setting and performance discussions, we ask about your strengths, your goals, and your interests. But we also go deeper. Do you genuinely enjoy your work? Do you have the opportunity to “play” to your strengths? What motivates you to perform at your best? We ask these questions not just because it is good business. We want you to feel connected, confident, and energized.

Play motive isn’t about gamifying work or having more parties. Play is directed towards people experimenting in the areas that have the greatest needs for adaptability, whether that’s customer service, product design, or operations.

Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor, Primed to Perform

Through these questions, HWC connects our employees to a type of performance that enables play—known as adaptive performance. Adaptive performance is the ability to transform basic tasks into problem-solving skills. We look outside the box to offer creative solutions for our teams and clients. It’s good consulting. We orient our competencies around working in an environment that is ever-changing yet adaptive. We empower you to be curious, creative, and innovative. Through adaptive performance, HWC creates value for ourselves and our clients.

 

Curiosity and experimentation are at the heart of play. People intrinsically enjoy learning and adapting. We instinctively seek out opportunities to play and experiment.

Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor, Primed to Perform

Unfortunately, we can’t always play eight hours per day. As consultants, we sometimes need to execute plans or projects that might not bring us joy. But they are still necessary. These tasks or activities help us meet a goal or advance a solution. They are part of a broader strategy. Doshi and McGregor call this tactical performance. Tactical performance always exists. It allows us to be efficient and reliable. For example, when we execute a specific approach to quantitative analytics, the client knows the steps that we will take: scope, acquire, prepare, analyze, visualize, and respond. It is a proven, effective approach across a range of client engagements.

Every high-performing consultant needs both adaptive and tactical performance. Great consultants operate more efficiently and consistently by sticking to a plan, while also adapting to meet each costumer’s unique, changing needs. The same is true for any team or organization.

HWC employees set high standards and want to work side-by-side with great people. By creating a work environment where people enjoy what they do, we maintain an energized, creative workforce. Let’s hear from you. What motivates you and gives you play?  Do you fundamentally like your work? Do you find it fun and enjoyable? Will it help you reach your personal goals? Reflect on these questions and don’t be afraid to discuss your thoughts with a performance advisor, colleague, or trusted confidant.

Claudine Hughes Claudine specializes in organizational strategy and development for federal organizations. She leads HWC’s performance advising initiative, collaborating with staff across the company to support play, purpose, and potential for everyone. Claudine loves working to support people and culture, two things she prizes about life at HWC.