Those of you who are regular readers of this space might recall a story I wrote about a year ago, where my children helped celebrate my birthday with a “Dadcathlon,” a series of semi-competitive yard games.
It was one of the best birthday “parties” I had ever had. The kids enjoyed it too. As a matter of fact, they enjoyed it so much that they decided to hold Dadcathlon II.
This year, however, it was a little bit different.
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Daughter Jenni was the mastermind of the original Dadcathlon, and son Ben was assigned the task of organizing the 2020 celebration. Since the grandkids were getting older and inherited their parent’s competitive spirit, he wanted to include them in the fun and games.
The games had to be challenging enough for the adults, but simple enough for grandkids age 7 – 4.
I am not sure where Ben did his research, but he came up with a total of 16 different games. He then listed all 14 people who were going to play, only leaving out the three youngest grand kids. The games he chose used basic household items like water bottles, balloons, sidewalk chalk and rolls of toilet paper. If he were conducting the Dadcathlon in April, he would have had to find different games!
The other factor was that we were going to play these games at home in the front yard, so space was a concern.
Here are some of the games we played, some as individuals, some in teams: toilet paper ring toss; bottle flip; hop, rock, paper scissors, toilet paper bowling, with water bottles as pins; and Bozo’s bucket toss. Later in the day we played spikeball and corn hole. After it was all done, even before the medal ceremony, everyone decided they had a great time and will likely hold Dadcathlon III.
I would like to convey three different ideas this week.
As small business owners and managers, it is okay to change something that worked well the first time. Make certain tweaks, while maintaining true to our mission. There is more than one way to accomplish the goal. Often, different people come up with great ideas.
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Secondly, our job is to make sure that the people who work with us enjoy coming to work. Yes, I know that work should be its own reward but honestly, most people aren’t that altruistic. If we make work fun, sometimes with a little diversion like simple games, people will remember and look forward to being part of your team.
Finally, Ben did a great job of including everyone from the old to the young, and from the athletic to the not quite as athletic. While the goal was to win each game, he designed them so that just playing was very enjoyable. In our businesses we need to find ways to include multiple generations with diverse interests. Not easy to do, but the rewards are a much happier environment where people are generally more productive. And happy, productive people translate to more profits.
In the first Dadcathlon I earned a bronze medal. This year I was expecting to end up in the middle of the pack. Instead I was awarded the gold! Ben tells me that it wasn’t a set up because it was my birthday. I’m not so sure, but I have the medal proudly displayed on my night stand!
Small Business Today is a bi-weekly feature written by Tom Friedman, market president of First National Bank, Ankeny.
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This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Small Business: It’s okay to tweak what works and make the office a fun place for all