The Triangle of Apathy

Triangle

I’m no expert in the workplace – I’m more of a victim.  That’s a lie – I am an expert, if only in my own mind.  I’ve even written books on it (Cubicle Warfare and Business Rules) I’ve noticed lately in speaking with people in a fairly wide range of organizations that they are growing apathetic towards their jobs and careers.

We all feel a twinge of apathy at work at one point or another.  It drains your productivity, but oddly enough, you don’t care.  You are demotivated to work harder, put in extra hours, to try and go above and beyond.  Everyone gets this feeling now and then – but it seems more prevalent lately.

I would offer you solutions, but tonight I prefer to whine about apathy rather than solve it (a symptom of my own malaise at work.)  Over the years I have learned that people digest business concepts best if they have a stupid, yet simple, graphic tied to them.  Thus I present the Triangle of Apathy (™ pending)!

So what makes people indifferent about their job or their alleged contribution at work?  Three things make up the triangle:

  • Managers that don’t or cannot lead
  • Inability to navigate your career
  • Uninspiring or no vision

Managers that don’t or cannot lead.  Let’s face it, many organizations don’t promote well.  People rise to management levels not based on their ability to lead or motivate a team, but on some technical skill.   The assumption that everyone can simply “pickup” a core management competency on-the-fly is a drunken fallacy.  Some managers couldn’t organize a good bowel movement, let alone lead a team.  We’ve all seen it.  This drives apathy because part of a suite of managerial acumen is being able to guide employees through change.  When that doesn’t exist, it provides a firm foundation for employee apathy.  “I turned to my manager for help and all she said was that she didn’t know what was going on either…’welcome to the club.'”  Spineless, uninspired, demotivated, or outright incompetent leaders disenfranchise their staff and spread apathy like a plague during the Renaissance.  (On top of a nifty graphic, you are going to get lots of pointless metaphors in this post as well – no extra charge.)

Inability to navigate your career.  I don’t really subscribe to the idea that you have a career – only a job…but that’s a different blog post. https://blainepardoe.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/a-critique-about-careers/  Let’s pretend, for the sake of argument you believe you do have a career, you delusional bastard.  Your organization probably feeds you this line, “You own your own career.”  Do you?  Really?  You see inconsistent promotions – where people are advanced because of favoritism rather than competency.  Your own job is threatened constantly with reorganizations and outsourcing to the point where all you do is worry if your head is going to be on the chopping block next.  Nepotism or cronyism are the drugs of choice when new exciting roles are created in your organization.  You see no path forward other than to do what you are doing to the best of your ability and pray that is enough.  These factors blend into a toxic, debilitating slushie of indifference, sluggish motivation, and organizational lethargy.

Uninspiring or no vision.  Tip for leaders here.  Just because you think you have a vision and articulated it; that doesn’t mean it actually IS inspiring or understood.  Even if you have communicated it, chance are your team has not personalized it.  People want to know what is in it for them.  They want to know what they will be doing or doing differently.  They want to know how success of the vision will be measured.  Generally, people want to be excited, but that means understanding them.  Many managers lack that connection and are blissfully unaware they lack a clue about their people’s motivations.

In some cases there is a vision – but it is so dull that it fails to shake the apathy of the staff.  Of course the worse scenario is when there simply is no vision for an organization.  Instinctively people have a need to comprehend that their contributions matter to something larger. If you deny them this, apathy sets up like concrete on a summer day.

So how do you overcome all of this?  Simply put, don’t rely on your organization to be the source of your personal motivation.  This is all on you.  Let’s face it, you are the one person you can actually rely on most of the time.  If that isn’t enough, build a network of your blasé co-workers and try to come up with ways to encourage each other.  Don’t rely on the leadership that got you into this dull mood to correct it, take matters in your own hands.  Whining does feel good, but only for a few minutes.  After that it is just draining.  Be supportive of your close co-workers, the ones that are not contemplating workplace shootings. Get together once a week to share news of what work you’re doing, where the obstacles are, and how you can assist each other.

Crap – I guess you do own this part of your career. Go figure.   I’d go correct it above but I would have to scroll all of the way up, and I’m still pretty unmotivated.

The Humorous Real-Life Phases of a Reorganization

Diabolical_plan
Lesson:  Never leave your reorg plan laying around unless it has a funky code name.  

I have spent more of my career being reorganized than I have being organized.  In my day job I work in organizational change management, which is ironic because reorganization is part of the job.  Oddly enough I got my job via a reorganization.  I’d share that story but I think the emotional and physical scars are more than enough of a reminder of what it was like.  Suffice it to say that I have a knack for reorgs, which is a skill that is almost worthless in the real world.

As always, my proviso is that this has NOTHING to do with the organization that I am currently employed by.  This is simply a humorous look organizations in general.  Any resemblance to any person or legal corporate entity, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Disclaimer mode now disabled…

Reorganizations are often dubbed as transformative and they are.  They are change in its most pure corporate form.  There are two overarching models for reorganization that outline the phases of a reorg.  One is the traditional change management model, or a variation of it, John Kotter-isms, a melting iceberg and penguins, blah blah blah.

The second and less known are the real-life phases that the employees actually go through during this process.  This has not been documented until now because the truth hurts and most organizations don’t want to admit this is what they inflict on their people regularly.

Depending on the reorg, you may go through these phases in the course of hours, days, weeks, or months; dependent on your level of mental stability.  They are perfectly natural reactions.  Your results may vary.

So, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, I present to you, the real-life phases of a reorg:

Good…I’m glad this happening.  This place was pretty screwed up phase.  The announcement of the structured chaos to come is made.  Hey, let’s be honest; we all know that our organizations could be improved upon, some more than others.  Much of the problems the staff have been coping with were the result of the last reorg.  Maybe this change will fix some of the problems?  It could happen…right?  Right?  This phase usually is pretty short-lived because it takes very little time for management to crush employee optimism into a fine powder to sprinkle on their mocha lattes.

Raw, unadulterated panic phase. When the leadership and staff realize that things are about to change and it could (will) happen to them.  This panic often stems from the mental acknowledgement that the people driving the reorganization don’t really understand how your organization functions in the first place (usually because they are in charge.)  In fairness, you don’t totally understand it either – but that does not quell the panic.  The sheer terror comes from the thought that someone with the mentality of a fourth grader might be setting the course on your career and future.  Buy new sheets, you’ll have a lot of night sweats and screaming.

Beat these bastards to the punch phase. There’s always some closet-Einstein-wannabe that thinks believes they know what the problems are and will reorganize or dramatically change processes before the formal reorganization in an attempt to stave it off.  “If you knew it was broken, why didn’t you fix it a long time ago?”  This knee-jerk reaction generally sows even more seeds of chaos and forces people to undergo two or more reorganizations; or as I call it, “Fun on a bun!” No one is smart enough to guess what the fourth grader is planning, so just please, don’t try.

Trying to read the tea-leaves phase.  This is the search for information and attempts to interpret what little is leaking out.  People troll for information from job posting boards to Linkedin.  Management does not give the staff the credit we so richly deserve in this area in terms of trying to piece together what is coming. Self-proclaimed savants or Long Island Mediums, make predictions based on the soup of the day in the cafeteria.  Even a mere dullard becomes creative in attempting to ferret out information.  Any information gleaned is subject to random and wild interpretation, guesses, or leaps of logic.  In other words, it’s mostly worthless.

Attempting to stake out territory phase.  Like dogs marking their yard, mid-level and senior managers begin posturing during this phase of the reorg.  This could be the “puff your chest-out” phase as well.  Leaders (and I use that word loosely) suddenly proclaim from on-high that they are in charge of a team, a body of work, a process, or anything to make them seem more important.  While entertaining, this rarely instills confidence in your leadership. Right now you are picturing your manager taking a pee in the yard – admit it.

Jockeying for position phase.  Reorganizations generate meetings.  Often these covert off-site affairs, held with pentagrams on the floor, hooded cloaks for the participants and black candles for effect. These covens (yes, I used that word) are where management tries to position themselves in the new org structure.  They come before whoever is leading the reorganization and plead their case as to why they are awesome and deserve to continue on with minimal impact.  They will barter with their teams, often crushing other people’s careers to preserve a proverbial seat at the big-kids-table.  This is a clash of egos vs. what is right for the organization and that clash often wracks up a body count. Those not invited to the meetings will hang out in the hallway outside, hoping that being seen will trigger some sort of positive reaction with those bartering their staff’s souls/careers.

Leadership feeds on itself phase.  Cue the Star Trek fight music please.  Da-da-da-da-dah-dah-da-dum!  The more opportunistic leaders begin to undermine their colleagues.  I guess the thinking is that they make themselves look better by making their peers like worse.  The level of backstabbing could make for an entire season of Game of Thrones, sans the nudity.  Snide, off-handed comments (or outright lies – dealer’s choice)  aimed at eroding fellow leader’s characters mark this stage of the reorganization.

Reorg kirk
Last one of us standing gets the IT Department to report to them!  

The “I no longer give a flying fu*k at the rolling-doughnut,” phase.  Reorganizations have a tendency to drag out, for a variety of reasons (chiefly being that you can’t reorganize something that was never organized in the first place.)  When this phase happens the staff reach a point of “just give us the new org charts so we can get on with our lives.”  When you place people in limbo long enough, they cease to care about the end-game.  You could hand them a turd on a piece of paper and they would be happy simply because this time-wasting, angst-fueling process would be over.  All hail the new turd!

The apathy phase.  Every reorganization that has ever been announced misses its own artificial deadlines.  There is a point where the staff just throw their hands up in the air and work grinds to a halt.  Leadership usually has no clue this is going on – they are attending reorg meetings after all.

Final bloodletting phase.  This is the actual announcement of the new organization structure (or target operation model – TOM) itself.  The final winners and losers are known.  Remember Gladiator – “Are you not entertained?!”  There’s no time for mourning.  Leadership wants return on investment for the time it took to put the new structure together. The formal announcement often leaves folks agreeing with some parts of the change, and puzzled by others. Fortunately the apathy overwhelms the last vestiges of staff resistance.

The run up the flag and declare victory phase.  “Suck it up bro.”  There should be a lot of change management activities to help the staff adopt the new operating model/structure.  These are generally tossed out of the window.  It’s time to get back to “BAU – business as usual…or is that unusual?”  Despite all of the planning, there are huge gaps that are created in almost every reorganization that leave the staff confused as to how to proceed.

The new resistance is born phase.  Leaders who were losers but not terminated begin to undermine the new organization.  People entrench in their ways of working.  The more delusional pretend the new organization doesn’t exist (crazy, right?)  Revenge is a dish best served in a filthy kitchenette I guess.  People begin to build organizational friction between teams, processes that inflict harm on others, all to spur on another reorganization and a chance for those hurt in this reorg to rise to the top again.  Go forward in time a year and start at the top of the list!

If you liked this, check our my snarky book:  Business Rules. 

Workplace Humor…Real-Life Work Skills/Competencies

office space
It bothers me that you would ask.  

I know it’s coming, looming like a dull summer storm – my annual goal setting process.  I rate the entire experience right up there with root canal and ingrown toenails (not the fun ones, but the pus-oozing kind).

What skills will you develop?  What competencies will you improve upon?  Blah blah blah.  That got me thinking – what are the real-life skills and competencies that we all recognize?  Here is my suggested list:

Timing a work break for when leftover food from meetings is put out for the taking.

Toggling between Facebook and work product before your manager sees what you are really doing.

Convert leadership ambiguity to tangible actions.

Getting that guy or gal that constantly late for meetings up to speed in two minutes or less.

Pretending (convincingly) to give a damn.

Ability to ignore incessant whining and grumbling from colleagues.

Writing annual goals that sound impressive but are really everyday tasks that can be documented as accomplished in the first month of the fiscal year.

Disinfecting shared workspace. Eww…

Optimizing the theft of office supplies based on value rather than need.

Laughter suppression.  I hear a lot of stuff every day that is batshit fuc*ing crazy.

Apprehension of the office refrigerator thief.  Bob, I don’t care if you take my food, but you touch my Diet Mountain Dew again, and they will be outlining your body on chalk in the kitchenette.

Anticipating leadership whims and changes of direction before they become full-blown crisis’s.

Staying awake in meetings that you clearly shouldn’t have been invited to.

Creating PowerPoint decks that meet company graphic standards and are still oddly useful.

Rapidly scanning a rambling, jumbled email to ascertain what is actually important.

Holding my bladder of bowels during long meetings where they don’t stop for bio-breaks..

Listening to an unqualified someone tell me how to do my job when and suppress the urge to kill them.

Suppressing audible farts in meetings or other public spaces (especially elevators).

Active anger control.  There are some people that wouldn’t be with us today if I had not demonstrated this competency.

Calculating my time to retirement (days/weeks/hours/minutes)

Finding the right graphic for my PowerPoint deck.

Selecting the right category and dollar amount to avoid having my expense report audited.

Tactfully pointing out that the meeting is running long without adding, “because you can’t manage a damn meeting you moron!”

Creating the illusion that I care about feedback. Lots of head-nodding here.

Putting together a budget based on reality that still accounts for my manager’s bizarre pet projects.

Not reacting to the new “crisis” until I determine if it is, indeed, a crisis.

Shifting blame to a more guilty party than myself.

Minimal achievement of dress code.

Selecting the right charge code for my timesheet.

Not sacrificing productivity during a reorganization.

Pretending I care about my career, my current assignment, my company, etc.

Artful doodling when I should be paying attention.

Plotting the exotic deaths of annoying coworkers. I’ll bet if I push that laser printer out of the window when you leave – it will crush you.

Taking brilliant items and distilling them into meaningless (bland) bullet points on a PowerPoint slide.

Moving files to the right folder in Sharepoint.  I cannot express my hatred of SharePoint enough in a mere blog post.

Putting things in Excel that should never be in Excel.  Likewise working on things in Excel that should have been done in another application.

Updating my Linkedin profile so that I appear quasi-competent yet joyfully ambivalent.

Writing candid feedback for employees I barely knew, but for some reason, they requested my input. What project were we on together?

Decoding often pointless and confusing/contradictory messages from leadership.

Being responsible for my own actions.  “Not only did I do it…if given the same opportunity, I’d do it again!”

Following standards that make little sense or don’t apply to me.

Attending anniversary or farewell parties for peers I don’t like or don’t care about.

Attending team building activities after hours and not show my contempt for taking away precious hours from my private life.

Dodging douchbaggery and the douchbags that spread it.  Yes – I made up the word douchbaggery.

Succinctly summarizing and pointing out the obvious to people who would not recognize it if it kick them in the nutsack.

Rearranging my life around people who cannot use the calendaring function in Outlook, or who have no concept of different time zones and working hours.

Extinguishing fires that lesser people have set.

Resume’ updating because I feel my job is being threatened…again…still.

Stepping up to the plate rather than attempting to deflecting work.

Demonstrating more technical skills than the help desk when troubleshooting my problems.

Faking a positive attitude as my career is under siege.

Rubbing someone’s nose in their own mistake(s) without using the phrase, “I told you so.”

Providing professional consultation that is completely disregarded and/or ignored.

Going to mute on the first hint of a bark from my dog while working at home.

Fixing other people’s mistakes.

Coming up with funny nicknames for coworkers “Here comes Captain Kickback and Queen Clusterfu*k.”

Providing concise feedback on messages and communications that is completely disregarded or ignored.

Suppressing laughter at completely inappropriate moments.

Congratulating people on promotions that they clearly didn’t deserve or earn.

Attending training off-hours because “we’re global.”

Offering my professional experience and expertise and smiling while it is blatantly ignored.

Savoring the sweet drinking container filled with caffeine first thing in the morning.

Not demonstrating my outright revulsion our nausea when the annual promotion list is issued. “Are you out of your fu*king minds?”

Comprehending which stupid request can be ignored, and which ones have to be acted on immediately.

Advanced listening…especially when people are whining about how horrible this place can be at times.

Moving my more mundane and pointless work to others.

Use of perfectly timed profanity based on stakeholder audience.

Accepting blame for things my superiors screwed up or outright ignored my corrective suggestions about.

Diagnose and troubleshoot Skype connectivity issues during the first three minutes of every single damn conference call I’m on.

Digesting what is served in the guise of “lunch” in the cafeteria.

Suppression of laughter when the new person tells us how they are going to “fix all of our obvious problems.”

Taking complex technical solutions and breaking them down into things that are understandable by normal people.

Applying an ample dose of humor at just the right time to shatter tension.

Knowing when to apply a process, and when to toss it out the window.

Detection and acknowledgement of good sarcasm in the workplace.

Quick understanding of what is a real crisis and what is a made-up-blown-out-of-proportion-panic.

Demonstrating a lack of self-awareness while placing my career at risk over some corporate cause du jour.

Unwillingness to compromise my principles and values despite daily pressures to do so.

Perform minor miracles with decimated budgets, lack of manpower, and conflicting directions from leadership.

Ability to pile on in a conversation so that I appear more engaged.

stress

Did I miss any?

Workplace Humor – Things Never Heard in the Office

The Office

I feel the need for a little blast of office humor.  Here’s my list of things that have never been said in the workplace.  Enjoy!

I love it when you microwave leftover fish in the kitchenette.  The smell is divine!

Oh boy, a PowerPoint presentation!  I haven’t seen one of those in a while.

I get to have lunch every day.

After hours meetings are my favorite.

You don’t have to tell me what my raise is this year – I like surprises.

I really respect how you ignored my previously scheduled meetings and put yours out right on top of other people who can use Outlook correctly and were courteous.

My favorite part is when you read your PowerPoint slides to me because I can’t read.

There was no traffic when I came in today.

I love it when you send me material at 11:30pm and expect me to respond in a half an hour.

There’s no way we are going to blame the vendor for this mess.

My headcount/staff additions have all been approved.

I would bet my life on the technologies we use here at work.

My career is right on track.

I love the way you give developmental feedback.  It’s SO useful.

My two favorite times of the year are annual performance reviews and goal setting.

Information Security is VERY flexible.

I don’t mind changing that thing we agreed to eight months ago, now that we’re two days before launch.

I sure hope this web based learning has a comprehensive test at the end of it.

We will never have layoffs in this organization.

Your idea is much better than mine.

It’s a good thing we have highly competent leadership to get us through this.

You’ll have plenty of time built into the schedule.

Skype is my favorite consistent tool for having meetings.

Nothing motivates me more than having someone threaten my job.

Thank goodness for the dress code.

No, I don’t mind if this meeting runs over a half an hour or so…I wasn’t doing anything after this anyone.

I’m completely in the loop.

I love business travel…it never interferes with my private life.

No, 5:00am isn’t too early for me to meet.

I’ll buy my own office supplies.

I think all of the smokers huddled near the entrance is cute.

I wish the company would make me install more apps on my personal smart phone.

Our telephone technical support is awesome.

You can’t possibly over-document a process.

No, 192 slides in your presentation is not too many.

I have all of the information I need to get this done on time.

Pivot tables are fun on a bun.

I love it when you use Excel as a word processor.

We have too many vacation and holidays here.

Wow are you being flexible!

I was hoping you’d ask me to donate to your favorite charity/cause/event.

I could fly business class, but I thought it best to save the company money, so I opted for coach.

Strategic alliances always work out for the best.

My PC is too fast.  Can I get an older, slower model?

I wish I had the same carpet we have in the office at home.  It’s SO plush and hides stains well…

No one on our team is stressed.

I appreciate the offer of promotion, but I think it’s a little premature in my career, don’t you?

Wow look at all of the white board markers in this conference room.  And they all are new!

Oh boy, the annual budgeting process is starting!

I find that the wingdings font helps make things much clearer.

It is helpful that you have dived into the weeds.

I love that new acronym.  It makes my understanding complete.

I missed what you said because I was updating Facebook.

Do I have to take a holiday off?

I work best when I am given an unreasonable deadline and no resources to meet it.

I love it when company leadership adjusts our pension plan.

I am glad they give us so much time to attend training.

PowerPoint solves everything.

Moving the timeline up won’t cause any problems.  We can do it sooner with no issues.

I wish we could eat in the cafeteria after hours…it’s my favorite restaurant.

I cherish the moments I spend waiting for technical support to figure out who I am.

I could sure use more spam in my inbox.

I was thinking that this might be a good time to panic.

Oh boy…I get to change my password this afternoon!

You can just ignore the agenda.

Threatening my job inspires me to do better.

Could you micromanage me some more?  I find it helpful.

I want to take the time to read the entire document before asking any questions.

I can’t wait for the next reorganization.

If you stopped paying me, I would still come in and do the work.  This place is that awesome.

I wish they would move employee parking further away from the office.

Snowstorm days are my favorite days to come into the office.

I think I’m grossly overpaid for what I do.

We always accomplish a lot during lunch meetings.

Thank goodness you involved me early on this project.

This place would make an awesome movie.

Our bathrooms here are spotless.

I want to transfer to the mail room.

I have too much respect for our IT Department.  I brag to my friends about how great ours is.

I don’t mind that you interrupted me…your words are more important than mine.

Our company spends too much time worrying about the impact of decisions on the staff.

I’ve never had an issue getting my expenses reimbursed.

Open floorplans and shared workspace really boost productivity (and provide all the privacy I need).

You guys go home…I want to stay late and work on this.

It’s very convenient to work with people in other time zones.

You’re being way too flexible.  I work best with a lot of structure.

I attend these meetings because the lunch they provide is so tasty.

The best time of the day is the two hours I spend going each way to and from work.  It’s “me” time.

Raising your voice makes me believe you are more correct.

The problem is that the company communicates meaningful and useful information to us too often.

Our customers are far too patient.

Your kid is selling something at school?  Put me down for four of whatever it is.

Your PowerPoint presentation thrilled, motivated, and inspired me.

We need more rules to govern us.

This isn’t just a job, it is a career.

I’m going to take some personal time this afternoon to clean the kitchenette area and do the dishes there.

I want to hear more about how you are going to fix all of the problems in our department…after being here two weeks.

You have a good grasp of the big picture.

Could you use more technical phrases when you explain it to me?

Six point font is totally readable.

They would never lay me off or outsource my job.  I’m invaluable.

Nothing says lovin’ like mandatory learning!

Can everyone on the call stay off of mute? Feel free to put this conference call on hold if we are boring you.

I love it when your dog barks in the background.

Go ahead and finish your text message, what I was saying wasn’t important anyway.

That doctor/dentist’s appointment can wait.  I need to finish this spreadsheet.

SAP is pretty intuitive to implement.

I’d love to do a group photo for the company’s web page (or SharePoint site).

When I work at home I wear the same things as when I’m in the office.

Video calls are a blast.

Gosh darn it, my inbox is empty.

You can skip my raise this year.  Working here is reward enough for me.

Boy does the refrigerator in the kitchenette smell and look clean!

I hope we get to do a mandatory, after-hours team building event!

Don’t worry about the budget.  We trust you.

I like being triple-booked for meetings.  It means I’m popular.

Town hall meetings are a productive use of my time.

This is exactly what I wanted to do when I graduated college.

How early can I get into the office to start work?

The greatest joy I have in the week is filling out my timesheet.

Can you put me on a failing project?  I want a real challenge.

Can I have a copy of that poster in the breakroom?  I’d like to hang it up in my apartment.

Linkedin has improved my career measurably.

Your happiness is what motivates me.

That data analysis you prepared was dreamy.

It’s not a problem you showed up late for the meeting.  We looked forward to catching you up.

The new hires we get from colleges really fit into our culture well.

I’m comfortable with you being smarter than me.

Whatever you do, don’t prioritize my work.

Please, withhold more information that I need to do my job.

I wish I had the stamina to work longer days.

I am sure our leadership has considered all points of view.

Of course I’m comfortable with taking a demotion.  All that matters is that I get to work here with you.

One of the reasons I stay here are the great chachkis I have accumulated over the years…especially stress balls.

Open enrollment is fun.

I’d much rather take web-based learning rather than go to Vegas to attend a seminar.

The company spared no expense on the toilet paper they purchased.

Aw rats, it’s 5:00pm!  I have to leave work.

Free leftover cookies from the meeting?  No, I’d much rather pay for them.

I’m ignoring that fire alarm…work is more important.

Who farted in here?  Whew!

I live for the random changes in direction.

No, I’m not interested in your latest rumor that could impact my career.

No thanks, coffee makes me too nervous.

I don’t mind being called “Bloodsucking Overhead” in the least.

Our corporate logo brings me joy.

Go ahead and go over your allotted time.  Your incoherent rambling is far more important than the other speakers.

No, I don’t need a bio-break.  We’ve only been in the meeting non-stop for five hours.

You don’t need to spell it.  Ackaraspapu is a pretty common name.

We’ve had so much fun on this project, let’s get together tonight after hours and hang out.

Please keep your smart phone out.  Feel free to do texts during the meeting. I know you’re paying attention.

My favorite part is when you talked down to me.

I’ll use the broken chair.

I don’t think the profitability matters.

I DO care about your petty little opinion – very much so.

Usually one has to go to a McDonalds or Taco Bell to find someone of your management stature.

I’m sorry, can you repeat that?  I wasn’t paying attention because your presentation was so incredibly boring.

I was hoping I might be able to lay some of my people off.

All of the awards our company wins really makes me feel positive about how things are going.

Someone wrote ‘Don’t erase” on the whiteboard.  I’m sure that was just a joke.

Yes, a mandatory after hours dinner sounds like a lot of fun. I often fantasize about eating with m co-workers.

Isn’t that the same outfit you wore yesterday?

We don’t need to worry about backing up our data – hard drives hardly ever fail.

Mentioning your rank in our discussion impressed me.

I don’t mind you canceling the meeting I prepared for at the last possible moment.  My time has little value.

There’s no need for us to meet, I read all of the material you sent in advance.

I was going to have a meeting, but sent an email instead.

The time you spent busting my balls was very helpful and will resolve all of the problems you were complaining about.

I’m going to update my passwords now, before I get those useful and courteous reminder messages.

I feel safe and secure because our building security folks are top notch experts in their field.  They are practically ninjas.

I think the best time for us to get the team together to work through this is after hours on Friday.

Your inability to follow an agenda is respectful of everyone on the call.

No, my significant other doesn’t mind at all if we cancel our personal plans so I can attend this meeting.

You are correctly using the word, “crisis” to describe this situation.

We could get more done if you weren’t a maniacal egotistical douchebag.

Being on a technology pilot is how I define a good time.

This place can’t function without you and your keen insights and swift decision making.

What will solve this problem is a good graphic image.

I don’t mind moving my personal vacation plans to accommodate your pseudo-crisis.  It would be my pleasure.

I love our password policy.  Keeping the same password for more than two weeks is boring.

I think it’s great you joined the call late.  It reminds us all of how important you are.

I can’t believe your former employer let you go.  You’re a keeper!

Because it worked at your last company I’m sure it will work here too.

Our organizational chart is sleek.

I LIVE to take another company survey because they always take swift, positive and noticeable action based on the results.

I can hear you too clearly on Skype.

By all means, tell me how to do my job more efficiently

I would never say that about you to your face.

I don’t mind not getting lunch all week so that I can work.

I’m checking my emails on vacation because I want to.

I don’t need to write my name on my lunch…my coworkers would never steal it.

My bonus was too large.

You have a bizarre definition of the word, “Winning.”

No, we’re not top-heavy with senior management.

I don’t know how this organization functioned without your brilliant leadership.

I’ve found outsourcing the work improves the quality, speed, and saves money almost every time.

I like the way you panic.

Don’t worry about what charge code to use.

I have saved every one of the t-shirts I’ve ever received from the company.

Renaming a project/product always solves all of its problems.

When I’m on a business trip I always eat at the cheapest place I can find.

My spreadsheet printed right the first time.

I believe filling out a status report every week is some of my most productive time I spend at work.

I get depressed when my manager calls in sick or goes on vacation.

I can’t talk now, the new issue of the company newsletter just arrived in my inbox and I can’t wait to read it.

I’m eligible to retire but I think I’ll stay on because I love working here so much.

Look – someone left me extra office supplies on my desk.

If we had more senior leaders working on this issue we’d solve it faster.

Enjoy my little snarky attempt at humor?  Check out my book: Business Rules

Annual Performance Reviews – A Snarky Fix to an Age-Old Problem

Dwight
Over-preparing for an annual review…

Note: None of this is related to my current employer where everything is sunshine, roses, rainbows, Prozac, and unicorns.   I’m just offering perspective about organizations as a whole and my disdain for annual performance reviews in general.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 

To say I loathe the annual performance review process used by most organizations would be a gross understatement.  Personally, I don’t like to talk about my career choices or reflect on my last year, even if that year was outstanding. My “career” (and I use that word loosely) is my business.  I have an Evil Plan and I’m not inclined to share it. Last year I critiqued the infamous bell curve The Dreaded Performance Review Season

Reviews have a sense of hopelessness about them.  They force you to take stock of the last 12 months and to obtain feedback on the last four weeks (which is usually the basis of the core of your rating).  In some organizations reviews are a burdensome administrative task that can fail to accomplish the intended goal of improving performance.  Instead they become exercises in statistic mathematics (fitting people to a bell curve) and focusing on the three things that an employee did wrong in a year, rather than the 300 things they did well.  I have yet to emerge from a review energized, inspired, and enthusiastic – and I get good ratings over the years.

Office2

So I started thinking about ways to make the process go by faster.  (Hey, if it can’t be motivating, at least we can get it over with – right?)  I thought a multiple choice/survey format that the employee could check off would expedite things in the discussion.  Now, I’m still tweaking this prototype – but I thought you’d enjoy my current working copy.  Feel free to share.

 

Annual Review Multiple Choice

 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

___Prison – for that whole, “Lone sniper on the roof of his place of employment” incident I’ve been covertly planning.

___Getting my hands on some fissionable material to finish a DYI project I have going in my basement.

___Wearing a “special” white coat with long sleeves that lace together in the back.

___Kicking back and retired on the income from my Nigerian Prince scam.

___Still waiting for Skype to connect my call from earlier today.

___Waiting in line for Star Wars XVI – The Last Sith

___Still searching for my long lost marbles.

___Trying to explain to my family why I wasn’t with them because I needed this job to pay the damned bills.

___In a shack in the forest, writing that manifesto I have been meaning to get to.

___In line at CVS to up my antidepressants.

___I see myself in a room, doing an annual review, making up another bullshit answer so that I can end this ordeal.

 

What are your career goals?

___Making sure someone else is framed for the crime or at least the guilty parties are identified.

___I’d like to be CEO.  Can you help make that happen?  If not, leave me alone.

___I’d settle for some cheesy title if you can’t actually promote me.  I’m quite fond of the title “Emperor” but you can call me ‘Sire.”

___To make the voices in my head go away or at least get down to a reasonable number.

___Four words:  Hand of the King.

___What is this “career” thing you are referring to?

___I am counting on the lottery or getting my own reality TV series about a guy working in a dysfunctional office.

___I don’t suppose “survival” is an option?  If so, I choose it.

 

How well do you work with your peers/colleagues?

___The fact they are still alive should tell you something.

___I like them.  When we are on a call together they make me look like the smartest person in the meeting.

___I strongly believe at least one of them will be featured on the news with one of their neighbors saying, “He was quiet – a loner…he seemed normal to me.”

___They are the best trained group of clowns to ever emerge from the same tiny car.

___Most seem stressed – but then again, underachievers usually are.

___Without them you wouldn’t need me.  (Think about it – you’ll eventually get it)

___I think enough of them to secretly post their resume’s on several leading job recruitment sites.

 

What do you think of your teammates?

___You will never meet a finer group of team members – outside of a prison basketball court.

___Great group of people…the kind you of team you see in Goodfellas or The Godfather.

___They can be counted on – for lunch and for making most of my meetings pointless.

___We are unified and cohesive on one thing, a common enemy, our manager. Oops!  Awkward…

___They can be consistently relied upon, to shuffle their workload to me.

___You will not meet a finer group of people outside of a chain gang.

___What I think my teammates says less about them and more about you and your interviewing standards and approaches.

___I hope at least two of them marry Cersi Lannister.

 

What kind of experiences can we give you to help your stretch and advance your career aspirations?

___Put my on a project that was not hopelessly doomed, horribly sponsored, technically impossible, or led by an escaped lunatic.

___How about putting me in charge of the whole shooting match?  I figure it will take three weeks…four tops, to straighten this all out.

___Please stop trying to help me by giving me more work.  If you stretch me more, I may snap.

___Something that is near completion, competently run, that I can claim credit for “leading.”

___I’ve been working with all of the responsibility and none of the power – how about we flip that for next year?

___Preferably something that requires travel to Hawaii, Europe, of Polynesia.

___I have been a patient in this asylum long enough, I’d like to be a guard for a while.

___None.  I just watch you as my manager and mentally note to do the opposite of what you do.

 

How do you feel about the feedback you received this year from your peers?

___I got feedback?  I thought we were still on “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell?”

___Apparently the bribe money was well spent.

___I’m sorry, we were supposed to read that before the review session?  I assure you I give that feedback all of the attention it is due.

___It is good to know that the people that gave me feedback are taking medication and drinking still.

___Those negative comments are totally deserved.  I was being a dick and want to assure you I will be a dick again in the future.

___There would have been more positive feedback if the system had allowed people to submit what they wrote in crayon.

___My response to the feedback begins with, “Those assholes started it!”  It goes downhill from there.

___I think the constructive (negative) feedback I received was because those people couldn’t find their ass with a flashlight and both hands.

___I am ashamed that these people who gave me feedback have that kind of time on their hands.  Makes you wonder about them, doesn’t it?

 

What kind of learning should we put in your annual plan?

___I was thinking of taking the Web Based Learning course, “Giving a damn – you can do it!”

___I don’t suppose I can convince you that basket-weaving is related to my job?

___Why bother, you will never give me the time to attend the course anyway?

___I believe a course in advanced cursing would be in order.

___I’ve tracked down an industry tradeshow for a week in Vegas.  Send me and I promise to make an effort to attend one of the sessions.

___Using Advanced PowerPoint Techniques, Graphics and Animations to Bedazzle Leaders 101

___Is there anything we have on substance abuse – a “how-to” kind of class?

___Really?  You’re going to give me the time to go to learning or the money to travel to it?  Don’t make me laugh.

___I don’t know – what did you take to get your job?  I’m sure only a short course will suffice to fill that gap.

 

What could you have done to have been more successful last year?

___”More successful?”  It sounds like you aren’t thankful for what you got there buddy.  You might want to work on that.

___Less leadership “support” and more common sense would have helped.

___While a bonus will not make me more successful, it can’t hurt matters.

___Suppressed my sense of humor and my snarky remarks during meetings.

___How about the ability to pick and choose the work I am assigned?

___I could have constructed a functional time machine to reverse your bad decisions.

___I have everything I need to be successful, at another company.  Thanks.

 

What can I do to make your job easier?

___Nothing.  Just keep those checks coming.

___Please, sweet Jesus, stop trying to help me.

___A limit of three random/psychotic changes of direction per month would be great.

___Tequila!

___Have you considered an extended vacation or taking a sabbatical? I recommend it.

___I have a list of people who need to “disappear,” if you catch my drift.  (Wink, wink)

___You can stop assigning me the workload of three full time staff.

___Before you make up deadlines, could you please purchase a calendar?

___Please have your boss remove their head from their ass.

 

What kind of feedback to you have for me as your manager?

___Keep on going – oblivious seems to work for you as well as me.

___I am impressed with you – well, that you find the office daily.  That I’m impressed with.

___What you don’t know won’t hurt you.

___Whatever you do, don’t look in the box under my desk.

___It’s adorable that you pretend to care.

___I don’t supposed you’d be willing to take a job with our competitors?

___You are PURE.  A Previously Undetected Recruiting Error.

___You don’t have stress but you ARE a carrier.

___I’m sorry, do I work for you?

___Like you care…

 

I think my multiple-choice approach streamlines the process – don’t you agree?

Hey, I wrote a pretty good book on cynicism at the office – Business Rules – The Cynic’s Guidebook to the Corporate Overlords  It is chocked full of bitterness about work…and extra vitamin goodness.