Nov 19

No one ever got fired for being early

I don’t like people who are late for meetings. And, it seems I’m not alone.Late

Sometimes tardiness simply can’t be avoided. And, yes, sometimes I’m late for a meeting (or two). But, I’m steamed by the people who are habitually late for everything.

We have an employee who always shows up late. Always. He’ll come sauntering in, mumble something about being stuck on a client call and then slip into an empty chair. As a result, we’ll have to recap what’s just been discussed in order to bring him up to speed. It’s rude, an insult to the rest of us and a waste of everyone’s precious time. But, in our passive-aggressive workplace culture, we never directly confront the ‘late guy.’ And that’s a ‘shame on us.’

Truth be told, though, I prefer late people to their rare, but equally annoying, early bird doppelgangers. These oddities insist on getting to airports, meetings or any other appointment way, way too early. When you do follow their advice, you just end up sitting. And sitting.

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Nov 14

Hey, did you hear about this way harsh Chicago PR firm that, like, fires people for gossiping?

Yeah, so anyway, get this: some Chicago PR firm has fired three of its workers for spreading gossip andGossip_2
now enforces a strict no-gossip rule at all times. Seriously, it seems the head guy didn’t like the backbiting and rumor mongering going on at his firm and, like, whacked the three biggest gossips. Seems way drastic, no? I mean, god, I’d be afraid to say anything about anyone. Like forever.

Also, how did the CEO know who the actual gossipers were? And, like how does he know someone isn’t, like, spreading malicious lies about someone else being a gossip? Like how does this dude know the point of origin? And, what’s with the pink slip? Like, wow, whacking people for talking behind other people’s backs? That’s almost anti-American. Jefferson and Adams constantly planted rumors and spread gossip about one another. So did Lincoln and Douglas. Even our boy W. had his storm troopers spreading all those nasty Swift Boat rumors about poor old John Kerry. Gossiping is as American as apple pie and baseball.

So, like, wow, where does the gossip rule start and where does it end? Will this PR firm also fire any vendors it thinks are gossiping behind its back? And, suppose the CEO caught himself making fun of one worker’s habitually bad breath? Would he fire himself?

Like, wow, I’m thinking this firing thing might just be a tad too harsh and a tad too self-centered. Like, ok, if you want to do it, do it. But why gossip about it?

Nov 08

Yup, we’ve got those

A Randstad USA poll of nearly 2,500 U.S. workers found gossip and ‘reply-to-all’ e-mails were the biggestGossip_2
office nuisances. No surprise there. What I did find interesting, though, were such other ‘irksome’ things as:

– Unwashed dishes in kitchen sinks (that drives our receptionist over the edge)
– Potent smells like perfume, food or smoke (occasionally a pungent Middle Eastern takeout lunch will totally disrupt our office. And, I used to work for a guy who lit a cherry tobacco pipe every workday at 5pm. Talk about overpowering. Ugh.)
– Speaker phones (when I did my job swap for a day, I literally couldn’t concentrate at times because a certain someone was sooooo loud on her speakerphone)
– Loud talking (we have a few prime candidates)

As the number one ‘reply-to-all’ e-mail offender of all time, I thought I’d also list a few office pet peeves not found on the list:

– People who come into the office sick as dogs and summarily infect others
– People who use their blackberries during management meetings
– people who neglect the courtesy flush in the men’s room (now known generically as "pulling a Bray" within our office)

The other interesting finding in the Randstad survey (btw, who or what is a Randstad?) is the worker complacency about such transgressions: only one in four would confront a loudmouth; only 33 percent would say something to a rumormonger and only one in four would complain about reply-to-all e-mails.

Maybe working alongside passive-aggressive employees should be another pet peeve?

Aug 30

Don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash

Imagine you’ve just been laid off. Now imagine your erstwhile employer, in its infinite wisdom, has included a list of 101 tips to save money alongside the pink slip.

Among the pearls of wisdom passed along in the tip sheet were:

1. "rent out a room or garage"

2. "shop in thrift stores"

3. "bicycle to work"

And my personal favorite:

4. "don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash"

Talk about setting realistic expectations! Could you imagine receiving a list of "helpful" tips like this? It would make me feel like I was one step away from becoming a street person.

I never cease to be amazed how badly organizations and their human resources executives muck-up their downsizings. Did this particular corporation really think its ex-employees would appreciate being told to shop in thrift stores, bicycle to work and pick their way through garbage?

Handling a downsizing should be a carefully considered, closely managed communications exercise. In fact, the best organizations ordinarily go to great pains to express caring and concern to downsized employees, their families, the local communities affected by the firings, customers, and every other constituent audience (except, perhaps, the Street, which usually cheers any example of cold-hearted, numbers-focused actions on the part of a public company’s management).

It shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that the offending organization in this case was NorthwestNwa_logo  Airlines, which routinely ranks among the worst airlines (hence the nickname, "Northworst") and is legendary for its horrific customer service (so, why should they be expected to treat employees any differently?).

So, here’s hoping that downsized Northworst airlines employees rummage through their neighborhood trash cans, pick out the nastiest objects they can find and forward said contents to the airline’s chief executive officer. Maybe that will get his attention. Or, maybe fearing his own imminent downsizing by the board, Northworst’s CEO may find a few things he likes in the incoming trash and hang onto them for the future.