Company Culture

The Department Joker

joker card
Photo by Akshay Anand on

There is an art to building a great set of individuals to make a great team or department.

As a department lead you are ultimately responsible for building out a set of teams that can deliver a good working environment where people feel safe, valued and they have played their own part and recognised for it.

Juggling Act

One of the most challenging aspects of this is balancing personalities, abilities and interpersonal connections.

Informal Roles

Everyone had a job role but unlikely there is an informal and unwritten role assigned to them within a team or department.

Looking back two decades of my career, there is one role that is often overlooked but undervalued.

The role? The team or department joker.

The Role Of The Department Joker

The joker often is the smartest on their feet, witty and can create a relaxed and humour-led environment.
When the environment can be tense or stretched, many colleagues look towards this person to lighten the mood or play their part in releasing the tension or offering a rest bite.

Like a hidden leader, there are some environments where this role can be overlooked. In many traditional setups, their role is downplayed, misinterpreted or dismissed.

I have found that the joker or humorous role plays a vital connector within the team and despite the odd side note or comment actually can align teams and drive them forward.

Company culture can thrive with the right blend of people including department jokers.

Develop The Joker

If you work closely with the joker, they are smart, they learn quickly and typically want to learn. They are usually good communicators and can gain cut through where others struggle. Learn from them, develop them, leverage their core skills.

In the remote world of work, the joker is harder to have an impact and release tensions but it is important as a leader you know how to keep engaged and playing to their strengths.

As I recommended in writing a letter to your team the value that the joker brings should be called out with praise within the letter and in the in-jokes should be enjoyed department-wide.

Maybe A Secret Weapon

Maybe the secret weapon within your company is a specialist, maybe actually it is the joker, maybe they act as the glue where if there weren’t with your firm anymore you’d potentially lose that extra layer in company culture.

Moving forward, I recommend you embrace your department joker, you work with them to help them develop their skills, help you learn from them around communication and insights and you create a team that can thrive with this person.

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If you are looking for more information on the hidden leader, this video for Isolated Talks will help you.