Part of the problem with working for other people is well… you're working for someone other than yourself. You spend a lot of time in the promotion of that brand as opposed to pushing TeamOne. Or as I refer to mine, CheleCo. CheleCo can't prosper while I'm hustling day and night for Big Corporate Co. Plus, Big Corporate Co has all sorts of random expectations (beyond just delivered work product) that grated on my last nerve. Here are just a few:
The obligatory birthday celebration: Le Huge Sigh. I listed it as number one because it is my least favorite thing. The passing of the card (always some drama). The herding of people into the conference room for the singing, cake cutting and whatnot. If you don't go, you're anti-social. If you go but don't want cake, you're making other people feel bad. What if I'm on a diet? What if I don't care for the person whose birthday we're celebrating? What if it's my birthday? You want to wish me a happy birthday? Give me the day off with pay. Nothing says "Happy Birthday!" like getting paid to sleep in.
Weekly Staff Meetings: Very few people know how to run these well. Just because a meeting is scheduled for an hour doesn't mean we have used every second. If we've done the updates and status reports in a half hour… cut us loose. But no. There's always one person who has some drama and waited until the staff meeting to bring it up. This also plays into my peeve above about folks who call a meeting but have no agenda.
Bosses' Day: I'm sorry. What is this fake-ass holiday about? Don't I spend all year doing for my boss? I'm required to show some special appreciation too? I once remarked (loudly), "Isn't EVERY day Bosses' Day?" My VP didn't appreciate it. Guess who was in charge of the celebration. L
Performance Appraisals: I know they are necessary. The problem is that people rarely use them as they are meant to be used – to set goals and review your performance against previous goals that have been discussed and agreed upon. You don't let somebody eff up all year and then nail them in the performance appraisal. The appraisal shouldn't be used as a weapon. Also, there should be few surprises. No one should find out on page nine of their annual review that no one thinks they are a team player. An effective manager really should level-set expectations. If someone thinks they are shining and about to get a juicy increase/promotion and you put them on a 60-day warning… that's a manager FAIL. Don't get me to preaching performance management.
State of the Company: Otherwise known as the All Hands' Meeting. If it's via conference call, it's almost bearable. But how painful is an all-day mandatory all hands on deck in person meeting where the muckety-mucks roll out the corporate speak: "We've had a challenging quarter but our turnaround strategy is sound. By innovating and striving for continuous excellence, we can reach our potential. But we need everyone giving 110% with their head in the game, it's going to take us rolling up our sleeves and making a team effort. Quality, Service-Driven, Results Oriented… that's our plan." Okay but what does that mean?
Team Building Exercises: I've played games, I've run races, I've gone on retreats, done the backwards trust fall, held hands and sang "Wind Beneath My Wings" (I wish I was joking) all in an effort to team build. I've never understood how forcing me to play Pictionary with the Benefits Manager after hours at the Director's mansion does anything other than solidify my opinion that the Benefits Manager was an idiot and that there was four hours of my life I'll never get back. Whenever I'm asked to provide ideas for team building I say the same thing: have everybody stop working one Friday of the month at twelve. Force them to sit together while you feed them then send them home early with pay – that's team building.
One day, I'll have to go in on Holiday parties, Company picnics and Freakin' Secret Santa. I could go in all day. But let's hear from you. What cutesy work "thing" drives you nuts? Are you sick of the white sheet cakes was super sweet frosting? Do share. The floor is yours…