Lispian Random meanderings on whatever catches my fancy

Lispian
More “Things That Drive Me Nuts”

I don’t know what “genius” figured having corporate parties after business hours or on weekends was in any way a good idea. How is it a good idea to ask your employees to take an evening out of their lives to spend even more time with the coworkers in some enforced “fun” filled venture? It’s even worse when they provide you with a “prize” which amounts to spending a week elsewhere with those self-same co-workers. It’s like a booby prize or form of punishment. I  have even heard of one firm that offered “dinner for one” as a “prize”. I guess they figure anyone stupid enough to spend enough of their spare time attempting to win said prize would no longer have a spouse or significant other willing to actually go out to dinner with them.

I know some will claim I’m just being a party pooper, but how many normal people actually want to spend an entire evening — and we’re talking 5 – 6 hours of your own time — with your coworkers? You’re not getting paid to go to this function. The music will be lame. The food will be passable if you’re lucky, you will have to “dress up” because some pinhead in HR figured it would be “fun” to make it formal, and you might have to find sitters, etc. Then, when you get there, the “entertainment value” for the evening will consist of the company drunk doing something expected and various management types babbling endlessly about goals and how proud they  are of you. These folks figure by annoying their employees by having them attend the event is preferable to simply giving them a monetary award, some actual recognition during work hours in front of their peers, some paid time off, or, God forbid, a dinner for two so as to actually show respect for the person and the significant other in the relationship, the very people who have had to put up with the long hours that the drone at the microphone is going on and on about.

Another insipid detail of these “events” is that they now tend to have a “rah rah” session. I know where these things have come from, our cousins to the south. Americans seem to love this cheerleading garbage. They seem to love having someone cheer them on, spout inanities to which they all grunt and cheer to: “We’re the best, yes we are, ooooga”. Crap! Most of the rest of the world finds this rather odd, moronic, and somewhat neanderthal. If I have no pride in my work, no pride in my job, no respect for my coworkers or my firm then a rah-rah session isn’t going to instill it in me or anyone else. What it will do, for anyone with brains or the smallest bit of self-respect, is make you wonder if you’re back in high school. And most of us hated high school, what with the posturing and the cliques and the jocks and princesses along with teachers who seemed more intent at keeping the inmates in line than anything else. We had enough of that rah-rah shit then, we don’t want it on the job and we don’t want to be forced to go to some insipid “pep rally” on a Saturday night when we could be with our spouse or  friends enjoying something that will actually make us happy and make us relax.

Oh, I can hear some claim they relax at these events. Really? You can fully be yourself when your boss is in the same room? You can sit there and not fake smile or pretend to be interested in what’s going on? I know some can, but most will sit there politely so as not to offend. But deep down you can see that they’d rather be anywhere else. They’d rather have a wolverine in their pants than sit through another “motivational talk” from the VP. At least with the wolverine only one of you are in pain and at least one of you is getting something out of it. With a corporate dinner and pep rally no one gets anything out of it and it’s an uncomfortable feeling all around.

So, if any corporate “adults” read this and wonder what to do next time here’s some advice. Get rid of the President’s Clubs and the corporate Christmas Party and all the other stupidity that forces employees to come together during non-office hours. Hell, get rid of any rah-rah shit during office hours, too — it’s a waste of money. Instead, take the amount you were planning on spending on those events and put it to useful purpose, say a local shelter, some decent chairs, free coffee and soft drinks, etc. That way the money will be well spent and people will actually benefit from the money — and you will instill some pride in the company as it’ll show it cares. Furthermore, as to things like “President’s Clubs”, just offer the top performers all expense paid vacations or cash or days off. They’ll be much happier going someplace with their spouse rather than having to spend a week with the people they share a prison cube with.

And don’t get me started on “team building exercises”.  Or cubicles. Or …

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January 2010
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