Tag Archives: colleagues

Estranging Arranging

The financial software industry is a volatile environment. The market shifts overnight; a small,  boutique competitor (previously unworthy of concern) secures significant investment from a venture capitalist, or three separate – but personally connected – individuals quit their employment to develop a rival product. Such news travels quickly, allowing for rapid, reactionary measures. Think of a game of chess in fast-forward and you have it; a constant state of flux in which some colleagues thrive, and others, unfortunately perish.

The sales department are perfectly honed to deal with this pace. The sales floor bustles with a ceaseless hum of friendly voices, dialing out to prospects. Office space serves as a political forum for airing grievances and seeking solutions. Meeting rooms are used only for customer calls and HR issues that – for now – require discretion.  These interactions, whizzing over the heads of nonparticipants, often make for entertaining ear fodder. One such example took place between Veronica and Keira, arranging to meet a partner firm.

Veronica is a no-shit, up front, efficient worker. A fixer – work with her or be shoved aside. On a bad day, she bangs her keyboard and cusses aplenty. On a good day, she engages in banter, elevating inappropriateness to unforeseen limits with a wicked cackle. Keira is her polar opposite, exploiting her feminine wiles to schmooze and charm, employing a pastiche, girly-girl persona. She partakes in office hi jinx, expediently extracting herself, when it veers towards questionable.

“Are you coming to that meeting, Veronica? Did you see that email?” This question was delivered from fifteen feet away.

“Yes, I’ll be at the meeting,” answered Veronica sharpishly, tapping heavily on her keyboard. She didn’t look up from her screen.

“There is no mention of dates in the email. 2pm. What day?”

“So you’re coming? It’s next Tuesday. Great! I’ll see you there.”

“Er, no, Keira … I’ll see YOU next Tuesday.”

“Pardon me? What did you say?” Keira’s tone was loaded with disbelief. “Did she just …?” Keira’s voice trailed off, smothered by chuckles from surrounding colleauges.

Veronica ducked behind her partition, out of Keira’s sight with a distinct look of concern.

“Fuck, I’ve been spending too much time at home with that builder who is working on my conservatory.”

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Awkwardness is …

Standing in a queue behind a female colleague and audibly singing,  “Ooo ooo Come n getcha some come n getcha some Candy“.

Said colleague turns around with an unexpected look of shock on her face and looks at you questioningly.

You think about the words of the song, pause for a moment and apologise.

Tidy Up Time

I work for a US multinational that can be anally retentive at the best of times. The toilet-brush incident is an example of this. Lots went down since the toilet-brush fiasco that I’ve failed to notice; I’ve become desensitised. Nothing caught my attention until last week.

Last week the facilities department sent an email that read something along as follows:

Tidy Up Friday

Next week, we have VIPs arriving. We need to make a special effort to keep our working areas clean and tidy. Employees are reminded of the tidy desk policy.

To add incentive we have decided to award a prize to most tidy desk. The winner of most tidy desk will be announced next week.

This email sent me into a nostalgic state. I remembered the evenings I collected my brother from his nursery school. If I collected him early enough I witnessed “Tidy Up Time!”

Tidy Up Time involved the minders of children encouraging the young kids to gather up paper strewn across tables, collect markers and crayons and put away Duplo blocks.

“Tidy Up Time,” the minders gently encouraged the children.

“Tidy Up Time” answered the children. The children repeated this over and over as a song.

It seemed my employer intended encouraging an adult equivalent of Tidy Up Time. This was scheduled for Friday afternoon. I laughed and thought no more of it.

Thursday, pre-Tidy Up Time day, arrived.  Our team lead sent an email, gently reminding our department that the level of tidiness was going to be reviewed. He encouraged us to make a “special effort”.

No one really bothered making any effort to tidy until 15.30 on Friday evening.  By then the shredding bin over flowed with paper. The clutter on desks was shoved into drawers.

I pulled open my large drawer to unexpectedly find three pairs of shoes. I threw two pairs in the bin and replaced the other in the drawer. I carried a large pile of paper to the shredding bin.

Minutes later, I returned to find my department talking amongst themselves in hushed tones. I sensed unhappiness.

“Who expected them to come around and check before 16.00?” one colleague enquired.

“We only started cleaning a few minutes ago,” replied another colleague.

“What happened?” I questioned.

“The Tidy Desk Committee just came around to do an inspection. They declared this the worst part of the building.” She seemed a little fazed by events.

“You mean there’s a Tidy Desk Committee?” I asked in disbelief.

“Yes, there is and they think we have the worst area in the building,” replied my colleague again.

I did nothing to hide my laughter at the fact a committee had been appointed.

The Tidy Desk Committee did another round of inspection today. Despite the fact we did a thorough tidy, they are still not happy.

I won’t pretend to not be disappointed. I thought “Winner of Tidiest Desk 2009” might make a good addition to my CV.

How to have a meeting

This is the manner in which meetings in my company pan out. I have substituted my company’s operations for that of another company. Can you see why I might be frustrated?

Linda – Hi, Harry. You wanted to have a meeting?

Harry – Yes, I want to have a meeting.

Linda – What do you want to discuss?

Harry – I was thinking of having a get together. I was hoping you’d help.

Linda – I’d be glad to.

Harry – Great! I am having a party this weekend. I thought you could organise alcohol and maybe some food.

Linda – Oh …!

Harry – Is there a problem?

Linda – No, but, well food and drink. I will have to contact the food and drink department.

Harry – Oh, OK.  Do that then.

Sometime later

Linda – So Mary will do food and James will do drinks.

Harry – I will need some glasses for drinks. I can get them from you, can’t I?

Linda – I don’t know. Mary can we provide glasses?

Mary – Have we provided glasses before? We must have done. We do cater for many functions.

Harry – Is there a problem?

Mary – No, a party should be no problem. Len, from the glasses department should know. I will ask him to step in for a few minutes.

Some more time later

Len – Yes, we can provide glasses for your party. We will deliver them on Saturday.

Harry – The party is on Friday.

James – You want the glasses the same day you want your drinks?

Harry – I thought that was obvious. Do most people not need glasses the same night as their party?

James – Linda, can you answer this question? I am not sure I follow.

Linda – OK, drinks and glasses on the same day … Len you might take Harry’s information.

Len – No, I have to be at another meeting in two minutes.

Harry – So there is no problem with my party?

Linda – No, there is no problem. How about we all touch base Monday and discuss progress?

Harry – But my party is this Friday …!

Linda – Harry, please be reasonable. You can’t just expect us to organise drinks in a matter of days.

Harry – But this is a brewery, is it not?

Linda – Good observation, Harry. We’ll reconvene at the same time next Monday and assess the situation then.

A Brush with Redundancy

Last week, the company gathered in the canteen for a meeting. A sombre faced CEO announced ten per cent of the work force was to be made redundant. Jobs were being sent to India. It was a strange feeling to know that livelihoods can just be upped and sent to the land of cost saving. Needless to say, a strange atmosphere came down upon the company and its employees. It still lingers. Uncertainly and Doubt hide behind partitions and office palms, ready to spring at the most opportune moment.

In fairness to my employer, they have been pretty good about everything. Information has been divulged to employees as soon as word came from New York HQ. Following the company meeting, departmental meetings were held to ensure there was no doubt on any of the issues and other cost saving initiatives. Feedback on the process was encouraged. In these recessionary times, when companies like Dell, Waterford Crystal and SR Technics get away with murder, it’s nice to know that employers will deliver beyond their statutory requirements.

My employer has also taken other initiatives in trying to quash negative staff morale. If you recall the toilet brush debacle and Facilities’ display of nobility via the new kitchen scrubbing brush, it comes as no surprise that an attempt to boost staff morale comes in the form of a new scrubbing brush. This is the third new scrubbing brush in a year. My colleagues and I are made up. The new brush is electric pink. This colour motivates us to wash our travel mugs with renewed vigour that my employer hopes will extend towards our outlook.

Ohhhhh the stimulation ...

Ohhhhh the stimulation ...