Funny Employee Awards

Office humor
I should have added an award for passive aggressive note writer…damn it! 

Offices really need their own version of the Emmy’s, Golden Globes, or the Academy Awards.  Sure, leadership could hand out spot bonuses, but it is much cheaper and fun to provide awards to your leaders, team-members, and minions.  In an effort to lighten everyone’s mood at work, (especially this week, which is in need of some laughs,) I present to you my generic list of funny office awards. Enjoy and share!

Most Likely to Steal Office Supplies Even if They Don’t Need Them Award – given to the man or woman that pilfers office supplies as some sort of mental escape.  I am the proud winner of this three years running. I also have 11 pairs of scissors and six staplers if anyone wants them.

The Tunneling Out Award – provided to the employee spending the most time updating their Linkedin status in hopes of being recruited award. Ironically this person spends most of their working day trying to work somewhere else.

The White Rabbit Award – for the individual that shows up chronically late for every single damn meeting, even the ones they organize and ask for.

Person Most Likely to be Found Watching YouTube and Claiming it was “Self-Paced Training” – Given to that individual who watches movie trailers all day long.

The Deflector – Awarded to the person that takes their work and assigns it to others most effectively and consistently.

Mr. or Ms. Non-Committal – given to the “leader” that refuses to make a decision, even on the most basic thing.  No matter how much evidence you provide, the winner of this award will not land on a decision.

The Center of the Universe Award – It’s always all about them. Just ask them.

The Paper, Scissors, Rock Award – Given to the individual that makes arbitrary decisions based on sketchy criteria, just to move things forward.

The Useless Skills Trophy – Presented to the individual whose skill set has nothing to do with anything remotely related to work.  Planning an office retirement party is not the same as project management – trust me.

The Mouthpiece Award – Given to the person most likely to spread a rumor just for the fun of it.  (I am a three time winner of this myself)

Most Likely to Secretly Love the Annual Budgeting Process Award – Not much can be said here; this person has deep psychological issues.  Their punishment isn’t getting the award; it is liking budgeting.

The Stolen Valor Award – for the individual that consistently steals credit for other people’s hard work, claiming he did it, contributed to it, or led it.

Most Paranoid Employee Award – Provided to the individual that is positive that he/she is about to be the target of managerial abuse or a reduction in force.  It should be noted that this individual is often correct.

Most Likely to Use PowerPoint as a Primary Communications Tool – Presented to that person that cannot make a trip to the restroom without a 26 slide deck explaining their bowel movements (complete with graphs). Here’s a tip – Putting it in PowerPoint is not the same as actually communicating it.  Duh!

The Rebrander – Given to the manager that renames broken projects or products rather than fixes them.

The Terminator – Awarded to the manager that has fired of outsourced the most staff in the given year.  This is not something to be proud of.

Most Likely to Create a Spreadsheet to Try and Solve a Problem – Spreadsheets rarely solve problems, they do however, create the illusion of solving problems. This person has a spreadsheet tab set up for every contingency in their life.  So sad…

Buzzwordaholic – This honored person embraces anything new that can be described in a buzzword or phrase or, better yet, a catchy acronym.  It is their way of appearing well-informed and knowledgeable.  For the rest of us, well, we all know bullshit when we see it.

Most Likely to Spend More Time Explaining Why They Are Not Working Rather Than Getting The Work Done – A tad long worded, but that’s how this douchbag rolls.

Class Clown – For the individual that somehow takes every situation, no matter how dire, and manages to make it humorous, if only for a moment.

Hall Monitor – awarded to the individual that keeps track on when people come, go, and how long they spend in the bathroom. I knew one winner who kept a spreadsheet of this.

Most Likely to Throw a Co-Worker Under a Bus at the First Hint of Trouble – This person’s default setting when under pressure is to expose their peers to the underside of a bus transmission.

Points Whore – Awarded to the manager that arranges business trips just to harvest the frequent flyer and hotel points.

Sasquatch Award – Given to the employee that is almost impossible to find, even when they are in the office.

Head up the Ass Award – Bestowed to the employee that is so freaking oblivious that he/she is immune to the effects of reality.

Social Networker Award – This person sits in meetings and tweets and updates Facebook rather than paying attention.  Everyone in the office knows they are updating Facebook on company time, because they are guilty of it too.  This person just doesn’t even try to cover it up or lie about it.

Tragically Happy or the Most Medicated Award – given to the person in the office that, no matter what, has a sickening Joker-like smile on their face.  Even when faced with utter disaster and doom, this person has that dopy smile on their face.

The Office Squealer – Given to the office snitch, the person that will sell out their beloved co-workers in hopes it will advance their own career.

Where Angels Fear to Tread Award – Bestowed to the individual that has taken the biggest risk, regardless of the damage it could have caused to their career.

The Office Cheerleader – Awarded to the person who has consumed the Kool-Aid and believes every little lie that leadership tells him or her.  They sing praises to the almighty company and all who sail her.

The Closet Hero Award – Given to the person who has saved the day but never got formal acknowledgement for their sacrifice.

The Lemming Award – This team award is given to group that goes along with the crowd and does something insipidly stupid because they refused to think on their own.  (Note:  There’s usually a lot of competition for this award).

Most Offensive Smelling Lunch Eaten at a Desk Award – There’s always someone trying to reheat something that reeks as if it was taken off a garbage scow.  The complete lack of awareness or concern for the nostrils of their co-workers puts them in heated contention for this award.

The Inappropriate Attire Award – This is a fairly broad category that can cover everything from hooker-wear to Roy who showed up for a live meeting in a Speedo. As long as there have been groups of people working together, there have been people who didn’t dress appropriately for it.

The Rules Nazi – Awarded to the employee that quotes and lives by the rules, regardless if that makes any sense whatsoever.

Artful Dodger(s) – Presented to the individual or team that meets regularly, creates impressive PowerPoint decks, but accomplishes nothing (other than misleading management that they are progressing with their work.)  You know who you are…

Able to Turn Any Day into a Monday Award – This Debbie Downer is the person who sucks the life out of room and always goes to the worse-case scenario in their thinking.  Even when bonuses are handed out, they point out how much taxes take away.

Tin Cans and String Award – Given to the employee whose internet connection for meetings is so horrible that they are usually unable to hear or speak, yet are still allowed to work from home.

Eternal Keeper of the Stupid Employee Motivational Poster Award – There are always a handful of employees that believe that a catchy saying on a colorful poster inspired others.  This award is designed to remind them that we all secretly mock them behind their backs.

The Al Haig Award – Given to the person that assumes authority and power they simply do not have.  (It’s a historical reference, look up Alexander Haig after President Regan was shot…oh, never mind…)

Most Likely to Lick the Boss’s Boots in Order to Advance His/Her Career Certificate – Given to that spineless, selfish, blatantly kiss-ass employee that openly adores the boss to the point of making his or her coworkers vomit.

Ignorance is Bliss Award – Given to that person that ignores the obvious and when confronted with facts, turns tail and runs.  This person believes the best way to survive in the workplace it to not know or acknowledge what is going on.

Vastly Overqualified – Just Ask Them – Award – It is difficult to talk to this person because their head will not fit in most standard sized conference rooms.  They are SO smart and love telling everyone about how ingenious they are.  Oh my God, I wish I was as intelligent and insightful as they think they are.

Terminally Downtrodden – Given to the employee whose hopes have been squashed so many times they are a mere rifle perch away from extracting revenge on their co-workers and management.  Despite their ill treatment, they refuse to leave.

Looking for a Reason to be Offended Award – Given to the employee that believes they are being oppressed because they are part of an affinity group.  They believe they are being singled out for abuse.  In reality they are being oppressed just like the rest of the staff.

It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere Award – Given to the person most likely to lead a party of his or her coworkers to the bar after work to attempt to purge/drown their memories of the day.

The Sports Analogy Award – There’s always a weenie that thinks the best way to make people understand or get behind something is with a sports analogy. While this never works, there’s always someone who thinks they are in the movie Rudy and that some sort of sports reference is something everyone can get behind.

Couldn’t Find Their Ass with a Flashlight and Both Hands Award – Bestowed upon that individual who is so hopelessly clueless that they don’t understand that this award is not an honor.

Idiotic Saying or Metaphor Award – Given to the person that says things like, “When one door closes, another one opens,” These little catch-phrases are aimed to inspire, but miss their mark because, well, they are idiotic.  When a door closes, it just closes.

Running Out the Clock Award – Presented to that employee that is around 18 months away from retirement, who is doing everything he/she can to keep their head down and stay off of leadership’s radar.

The Teflon Trophy – Given to that individual who commits the equivalent of a war crime at work, but comes through it with their reputation perfectly intact.  (I hate that guy…)

Planny-Plan-Plan Award – Given to that one leader that insists on detailed plans for everything while, at the same time, never actually executes those plans.  Note:  This can be awarded to a project team that becomes so mired in their planning that they cannot actually move to the implementation phases of anything.

In It for the Stale Bagel (aka The Buzzard Award) – Bestowed to that individual who comes to work solely to mooch the leftover/abandoned food outside of conference rooms.  “Hey, this saves me $12 a week in breakfast alone!”

The Triumphant Flag Waver Trophy – Presented to that manager that declares a project is over and runs up the flag to declare victory, despite the fact that only half of the work actually complete.

Clearly I have missed some…so what are yours?  Add them to the comments.

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Humorous Mission Statements for the Real World

missionstatement

I find the entire concept of mission statements to be one of those wonderful and pointless expenditures of time that organizations yearn to waste.  Anything written by more than two people is often so generic, so nebulous, so vague – that it means nothing.  Many have the same basic terms – “innovation,” “quality,” “customer,” “value,” which makes them essentially meaningless.  Some organizations strive to cram so much crap into their mission statement that it comes across like the ramblings of that guy who is panhandling at the Metro stop.  Mission statements are the definition of corporate white noise.

In my career I have never met anyone that was “inspired” by a mission statement.  If mission statements didn’t exist at all, nothing would change.  At best, they serve as a signposts for the employees to mock every time the organization violates them. At worst they are rambling paragraphs of gibberish created by a managerial committee.  Yet despite this, most departments and organizations as a whole spend considerable time crafting these garbled and confusing sentences that would cause your high school English teacher to suffer a mild stroke.

As a sidebar, those mission statements that capitalize certain words are written by a particular inbred, so-called leaders that lack two functioning brain cells.

So, I took it upon myself to craft a few of my own, aimed at being funny. These are not tied to any organization, fictional or real, and any similarities with real companies are coincidental (and funny).  Some are for companies – while others can be applied to departments.  Share and enjoy.

  • Our team’s function is to make ourselves look important by slowing down the work you do in a demonstration of the pseudo-authority we possess.
  • We are an assembly of random teams and staff with nothing in common who exist but whose value is not fully understood or appreciated – even by our own leadership.
  • Our mission is to make everyone else look bad by pointing out their mistakes and flaws so that we look better.
  • Our team exists to do all of the shit-work that no one else is willing to do.
  • The primary focus of our team is to get our leader promoted to another position of quasi-importance so that we hopefully will get someone sane to take his/her place.
  • The mission of our team is to be an example that you should NOT emulate.
  • Our team’s primary function is to produce PowerPoint slides that numb the senses and dull human thought, yet are strikingly beautiful.
  • Our shit doesn’t stink.  Chances are yours does.  We intend to make money off of that.
  • Our DNA is coded so that the customer comes first, well, right after all of our petty internal stuff.  Trust me, the customer is right up there in the top five…maybe ten, things we are focused on.
  • Our mission statement is to make sure leadership believes we are valuable, indispensable, unable to be outsourced, and critical to the survival of the organization.  We are none of these things, but we are relying on leadership incompetence to fill that void.
  • We put our customers first, unless of course they have their heads up their asses – in which case we will look for an appropriate scapegoat to blame.
  • Our organization believes that a fool and their money are soon parted.
  • Our mission is to be an industry leader so we can spend our time and effort fending off and overreacting to our competition who is squarely set on taking us down.
  • We innovate, collaborate, create, vacillate, procrastinate, pontificate, deliberate, guesstimate, and under-deliver daily to our clientele.
  • We put the “W” in Qwality.
  • We recognize that our people are the core of what we do and how we interact with customers – so we aim to make them as miserable as humanly possible.
  • Our mission is to provide you with technological solutions created in a foreign country by people who have no idea what you need, delivered on obsolete platforms with marginal support.  Note: This replaces our former mission statement, ‘Leader in rebooting the world’s hard drives.”
  • If you want it fast and high quality, you clearly aren’t dealing with us.
  • (From a HR department)  We are all about talent, and ensuring that the talent does not have a case that will stand up in court or arbitration.
  • Usability and the end-user experience is what we say it is.
  • We recruit the very best people in the world to service our clients…and crush their souls.
  • Our mission is to be paid on time or sooner if possible.
  • (From an information security department).  Our mission is to remove the human factor from technology, and the technology from the humans.  It’s the only way to be really secure.
  • We suck less than our competitors and much less than our market peers/colleagues.
  • Our mission is to not execute a major fu*k up that can be traced back to our team.
  • Our organization is dedicated to finding anyone in our target market who is a moron in a financial decision making capacity and exploiting their lack of intelligence.
    It is the mission of our team to survive the chaos, carnage, and catastrophic bad planning that is prevalent in our organization.
  • We believe that people are our most important asset…and that beating people makes them tougher and stronger.  Crushing their souls makes them invincible.
  • We start with bad data and go downhill from there.
  • To inspire our junior staff to seek opportunities elsewhere.
  • We make our money the old fashioned way, leveraging the horrific mistakes and outright paranoia of our customers.
  • We strive to under-promise and over-deliver – which means you cannot trust any estimates we give you.
  • Our mission is to innovate by taking other people’s ideas and repackaging them as our own.
  • When you think about us, you should only think of the propaganda we have pushed into the market.
  • We believe in whatever social causes will help us generate new revenue.
  • Our goal is to be the name most recognized with the least screw-ups in our industry segment.
  • We are experts in claiming to be experts.
  • Our mission is to complete the mind-numbing tasks that no one else is willing to undertake under the guise of “consulting.”
  • To connect our customers to innovative thoughts that we have artfully lifted from our competition.
  • We exist to be underappreciated, misunderstood, devalued, and often abused.  And we do it with a SMILE.
  • To empower people to connect to other more idiotic people and share their silly little ideas.
  • To share ideas without barriers…well, those ideas that legal has signed off on.
  • Our mission is to accelerate customers buying the stuff we sell.
  • To organize the world’s information and pimp it to you with a copious amount of advertisement.
  • Improving the lives of the people of the world by pushing products they don’t need or don’t work.
  • Creating perceived value from the insignificant for over 100 years.
  • If there is any fault in the services we provide, we will make it right or kill the scapegoat as an example to the others.
  • Our mission is to facilitate the transfer of money from your accounts to our back pockets with a minimal amount of resistance and the maximum amount of inspiration.
  • Attract and retain the best talent for our customers – until they make too much, then their jobs are off to India.
  • Provide the highest level of service for the least amount of effort.
  • We are a stiff and strict company with a casual dress code that assists in recruiting.
  • Our organization is dedicated to the proposition that our customers are less intelligent than we are.
  • Our operating principles are centered on the concept that employees should do what they are told and no one will get hurt.
  • Our mission is to open new markets that have not heard about our reputation for failure yet.
  • You will never pin it on us.
  • We are so greedy, we would sell meth if we thought we could get away with it.
  • Our mission is to create buzzwords and catch-phrases that sound important, then sell services aimed at correcting those same buzzwords in our client’s organizations.
  • If we could sell our employees’ souls we would do so for a solid revenue stream.
  • Our team’s mission is to have the most glamorous PowerPoint decks within the company.
  • We will pummel you about the head until you understand.
  • We tap the best minds in the business to attack your solutions…so if there’s a problem, we have someone else to blame.
  • Our goal is to change the world…into something that we can make more money on.
  • Our mission is to devise creative and complex solutions to make up for lack of leadership.
  • We take potentially dangerous chemicals and parts of animals, combine them in ungodly ways to sell them to consumers as food.  (From the fast food industry).
  • Ignorance on the part of our customers and insatiable greed on our part make for a potent combination of products and services.

And the winner:

We are rigidly focused on the following EIGHT ideals:

  1. We will DOMINATE the market with repackaged ideas and concepts.
  2. We CARE about the planet and recycling in all of the literature we print.
  3. We SPONSOR things to make us seem like good people.
  4. We believe in DIVERSITY so long as it does not upset our current management structure.
  5. We put our CUSTOMER’S FIRST; at least that what we tell them.
  6. We bring the highest QUALITY products and services to the market and support them with third world class service.
  7. We believe PEOPLE ARE OUR GREATEST ASSET and also our biggest liability, hence the way we treat them.

You can always check out my book – Business Rules for more snarky office humor.

Snarky Interpretations of Real Life Job Descriptions

Office space 2
Answer – I am the standing floor champion on World of Tanks.  So I’ve got that going or me…

Linkedin is constantly sending me jobs that they believe I am interested in or qualified for.  I look because, well, everyone should always be looking.  At the same time I cannot help but wonder, does Linkedin know something that I don’t?  The paranoia is very real. 

As I read many of these, you see patterns – certain phrases that turn up over and over.  As a veteran of the Cubicle Wars, I also know pure bullshit when I see it in a job description.  So the following is snippets from actual Linkedin job descriptions and my own snarky/funny/grim interpretations of those.  Enjoy!

“Some travel is to be expected.”  A LOT of inconvenient travel is expected.  We are going to send you to luxurious locales such as Newark, New Jersey to do your job.  PS.  We will force you to take these trips with no notice.  You didn’t really want a life outside of work did you?

“Must be a proficient multi-tasker.”  We are going to bury your ass in pointless work and unreasonable deadlines.  Then we will complain when you don’t get 46 hours of work done in 8 hours’ time.

“Candidate must be a self-starter. ” We have no functional leadership.  Zip, zero, nada.  We are going to give you no direction whatsoever. We’re counting on you to know what needs to be done (until it comes time to critique it.)

“Must be deadline driven.”  We expect you to work 24 x 7.  Don’t plan on any days off.

“You will be expected to partner with our people.”  We will provide you with an out of date org chart and you must then fend for yourself.

“Looking for an aggressive go-getter.”  1.  A certain amount of douchbaggery is acceptable in our culture and expected with this position.  2.  We expect you to crush as lot of careers and dash a lot of hopes in accepting this position.

“Candidate must have a great deal of flexibility.”  We will be giving you conflicting orders, deadlines, and priorities.  Moreover you are not allowed to complain about it. Good luck!

“You must have experience working in a matrixed organization.”  You will have multiple managers with conflicting objectives, expectations, and timelines.

“Creative work environment.”  We make stuff up as we go.

“You must have an established track record in (fill in the blank).” We anticipate you racked up a body count at your current employer while meeting your goals and expect more of the same.

“Must have in-depth industry knowledge.”  The ability to bullshit and drop industry buzzwords and acronyms will serve as a substitute for actual expertise in this job.

“Applicant must be self-directed.”  1.  No one is going to give you direction, guidance, assistance, or help as you are thrown to the wolves.   2.  We have no time for your  petty little questions.  3.  Our “leaders” couldn’t organize a good bowel movement.

“Experience in a collaborative environment a must.”  Everyone here will want to weigh in and criticize your work.  “Do you really think an Ariel 14 point font is the best to convey your message?”

“Seeking an eager candidate.”  We are looking to hire someone in their 20’s.  Older applicants will be completely ignored.

“Demonstrable ability to resolve complex system or business issues…”  You won’t believe how screwed up we are.  Don’t get me started on how bad our clients are either!  That’s okay, we expect you to come in and fix years’ worth of fu*k ups.  No pressure eh?

“Must be comfortable with public speaking and facilitating group discussions with senior executives.”  We want you to go and meet with our leaders and explain to them what business we are in, who are customers are, and why their ideas are wrong.  Good luck with that.

“Ability to work in a dynamic environment a plus.”  We are in a constant state of reorganization.  You’ve been warned.  PS.  That person that is hiring you is on the chopping block but doesn’t know it yet.

“Experience Managing People.”  Experience managing contractors.

“Candidate must be comfortable with public speaking to senior leaders.”  You will be preparing a lot of PowerPoint slides and reading them to people who are far too busy to take the time to read them on their own.”

“Ability to handle multiple priorities.”  We are going to dump a shitload of work on you – all due on the same day.

“Experience working with global teams.”  You will be expected to take phone calls at 4am and 11pm with people you cannot understand.

“Applying research and analytical skills to support thought leadership…”  You are allowed to use Google and Wikipedia to look up buzzwords we don’t fully understand.

“Candidate must have public sector experience.”  You will be working for a beltway bandit as a pitiless contractor in the Federal Government…may God have mercy on your soul.

“Experience working with human capital…”  You will be expected to work with actual people face-to-face rather than work remotely from home.

“Structuring approaches to solving discrete problems…”  We are hiring someone to fix our existing and future fu*k-ups.

“Use effective communication expertise to solicit feedback…”  You are to be the customer’s whipping boy (or gal) for every mistake that was made by our company.

“Ability to train and coach diverse teams in relation to governance, processes and best practice.”  You will be inheriting a team of broken souls and crushed dreams and are expected to fix them, despite the abuse that has been inflicted on them by your predecessor.

“Proven experience identifying and analyzing problems with the ability to make recommendations for solving these challenges.”  We don’t want to hear about your little problems; just fix it.

“You will be working in a challenging, complex and highly demanding environment.”  You will be experiencing chaos and mayhem starting on day one and it will not get any better.

“Enthusiastic individual sought…”  We expect you to be happy no matter how bad the abuse is.

“Develop and review complex spreadsheets to analyze data and develop specific recommendations.”  Maybe you can make some sense out of this data…we sure can’t.

“Coordinate with other organizations/teams to accomplish goals.”  Your success is dependent on your peers, which means you are screwed.

“Research, develop, and execute industry business plans…”  This is our way of saying, “We have no idea what we are in business for or how to deliver to our customers.  We’re counting on you figuring that out for us.”

“The ability to communicate respectfully and with tact.”  No yelling in the office.  That’s what got the last person that held this job fired.  We’re still paying on that lawsuit.

“Executive presentation skills a must.”  You will be using PowerPoint a lot.  A LOT.  Since your audience is executive-level, much of your work will be taking complex things and turning them into confusing graphics that look well-thought out.

“Become a thought leader in __________” We are counting on you figuring out what we are hiring you to do.

“…forward thinking…”  We need at least one person in our organization that knows which way is up and you could be him/her!

“Assist proposal managers and capture managers in developing/maintaining and communicating storylines, schedules, plans, outlines, assignments, baselines, and storyboards to the team.”  YOU will be doing all of the work while the proposal and capture managers criticize it and claim credit for your efforts.

“Must have deep analytical skills.”  We have a lot of data but have no idea what it all means.  You will be expected to tell us what it means, so we can then question the data’s validity.

“Experience in working in, or leading, dynamic global teams.”  To make your position more challenging, all of the people you must work with are scattered across the planet.  Don’t plan on getting any sleep once you hire on.

“Candidate must possess exceptional written communications skills.”  As your manager, I see myself as a much better writer than you will ever be.  No matter how perfect your work, I intend to slow it down with an endless series of markups and revisions that will slowly drive you insane.  Welcome aboard!

“Must possess certification in/by  ____________”  We don’t care if you can do it, we just want to know that your former employer spent the time and money to send you to training to learn how to do it.

“Other duties as assigned.”  We are SO going to bury your ass in work.  You won’t be seeing daylight for months.

“Translate and synthesize information from SMEs into a message that targeted audiences can understand, while maintaining the technical accuracy and completeness of the intended response.”  You will be forced to meet with highly technical people who cannot communicate, so that you can suck out of them their knowledge and turn it into something that is understandable.  All the while the highly technical people will criticize what you do, as will those that receive your work product.

“Ability to perform with grace and efficiency under pressure.”  Don’t you dare bitch about the crappy way we are going to treat you or I swear we will make your life a living hell for punishment.

“A wide degree of creativity and latitude is expected in performing analytics duties…”  You will be expected to make shit up on the fly.

“Experience in process improvement.”  We are so messed up that we need a fresh set of eyes to tell us what to fix.   Of course we will be ignoring your input, but we still expect it.”

“Participate in business development efforts…”  You will be expected to take orders from the sales and marketing teams and support any of their lies or deceptions to the customer, regardless of how ridiculous they may be.

“Take charge of company performance…”  We need a fall guy for our horrible sales numbers – and you’re applying to be that guy!

“Enhance our Business Development Lifecycle…”  You are going to be in sales.

“Define and visualize business strategy.”  You will need to figure out what we should be doing, then put it on a single PowerPoint slide.

“Re-engineer processes to improve delivery.”  Your role will be to unfu*k all of the stuff your predecessor screwed up.

“Must possess a strong sense of urgency about solving problems.”  When things go wrong, and they will, we will be yelling at you to fix them.

Hiring for Culture – The Case for Adaptability

FEARED OR LOVED

Last year a newly hired mid-level leader told me how he was frustrated with our organization along with, “I’m going to make some pretty big changes here, you wait and see.”  I’ve heard that before and warned him that his ideas might be good, but the key is how you implement them in our current culture.  He scoffed at me.  He was destined, in his mind, to (as my father would say) do wonders and shit blunders.  A year later his frustration is a little higher and the organization hasn’t changed in the least as a result of his efforts.  He thrust his bold and innovative ideas at our organization and found that his way of working didn’t mesh with how we work.  The root issue isn’t that we have problems as an organization…it’s that we hired someone that can’t adapt enough to our culture in order to influence change.

Corporate culture trumps individual leaders who desire to change.  It is the nature of the Corporate Overlords (All hail our Overlords!) to squash anything that might rock the proverbial boat.  Company culture is a big thing, lumbering, highly resistant to attacks and cries for transformation.  A deeply entrenched culture can easily smother and overpower the most ardent crusader seeking to change it.  People that come in with objectives of changing the company into something else often are found years later in a corner cubicle, drooling, rocking back and forth, sticky notes all over them and the floor, muttering to themselves.

When people hire they tend to look at experience and technical skills.  The unconsciously weigh the personality of the candidate as well.  In reality they need to explore a candidate’s adaptability.  Will this person be able to work in the culture of the organization – or will they try and make the culture change?

Adaptability is important with anyone coming in, yet most interviewers barely touch upon it.  They tend to see individuals that talk about driving cultural change as “go-getters.”  In reality, most people of this ilk end up bitter and disappointed or they simply pack up and move on, claiming, “My previous employer’s company was unwilling to adjust to my ideas.”

So what do you ask during an interview to root out a candidate’s willingness to adapt?  Here’s some samples:

  • Tell me about a time when you had a good idea but there was resistance – how did you overcome that resistance?
  • What kind of support do you expect from leadership or sponsors in making changes?
  • Having good ideas is important – tell me about how you successfully implemented changes at your previous employer.
  • How would you go about mapping stakeholders in our company in order to drive change?
  • Sometimes there are organizational barriers that prevent change.  Talk to me about how you overcame some barrier in the culture of your previous employer.
  • In your mind, what is the best way to deal with a culture that might not be ready for your ideas?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you had to bring together a lot of diverse stakeholders and get them on the same page?  How (exactly) did you do it?  What were some of the challenges you faced?
  • What role do you think this position has when it comes to our company’s culture?
  • Tell me what you think our organization’s culture is? (This one is very revealing, it tells you their preconceived notions should you hire them.)
  • How would you go about adapting what you did at your current employer to our unique environment here?

Champions that think they can inflict change to any organization’s culture can be powerful, but only if they can implement their changes.  What questions would you recommend adding to this interview list?

Humorous Workplace IT Department Awards

IT Crowd
From The IT Crowd – “Have you tried turning it off and back on again?” 

I am not just an author, I also work for a living – in an IT department.  The IT department is often the unsung heroes of any organization.  They are also the most black-hearted villains…often at the same time they are being damned heroic.  Information Technology is rarely appreciated, often maligned, and staffed with a bizarre menagerie of people that both soothe and create headaches; often in the same day.

It dawned on me that IT needs some sort of award ceremony.  Now, none of this applies to where I work currently, of course, but could be implemented in almost every IT department on the planet.  Feel free to share with your much-abused colleagues imprisoned in data centers, slinging code, or trapped in an Agile Sprint:

The Death Star (aka the River Kwai) Award:  Presented to the person most likely to blow up a deadline or budget (costing millions of dollars and thousands of lives in the process.)

The Tick Award: Given to co-workers for latching onto a project or work effort, not performing, but sucking the life out of it for everyone else.

King of the World Award:  Winners of this award earn it by willing to brag or claim credit for work they didn’t do to glorify their perceived contribution.

The OCR Award: The OCR (Office Comic Relief) is given to this vital person who makes witty, insightful, snarky, and blatantly comedic comments during conference calls.  (I myself am a six time winner of this in our department.  I’d like to thank the members of the Academy…)

The Dr. Who Award:  Awarded to individuals that show up at 10am and leave and 4am, take an hour for lunch, and complain about their long working hours.

The Tall Glass Award:  Given to the individual whose entire job function is to whine about work.

The Imperial Stormtrooper Award:   Presented to the individual who consistently misses the mark with every work effort they undertake.

The BW Award:  The (BW) Ball-less Wonder Award is given to the manager who, when pressed with adversity, sells his or her people out and backpedals on decisions.

The Software Abuse Award:  This is given to the persons who use software inappropriately.  They write documents in Excel, use PowerPoint to perform spreadsheet functions, etc.

The Eyechart Award:  Given to the person that produces a graphic image that cannot be read or understood due to small fonts or inane complexity.

The Chicken Little Award:  Winners of this award are in such a state of constant panic and paranoia that they cease to accomplish anything of use.  Also known as The Order of the Whirling Dervish.

Dwight 4
Remain calm! 

The Hot Air Balloon Award:  Presented to individuals that take something small and inflate it in terms of cost and complexity…usually just to make themselves appear more important or make others afraid to undertake the task.

The Brown-Noser Award:  This award is given to the biggest ass-kissers.

The Old Yeller Award:  This is awarded to individuals who have loud barking dogs in the background when on conference calls while working at home.

The Domino-Effect Award:  For the IT professional that put some little thing into production, ignoring protocols and processes, and took down the network or some large application.   Also known as The Lights Out Award. Note:  After the cover-up and deflection, this person is often promoted to a leadership level for reasons I cannot explain.

The Lotsa-Frappa Award:  Presented to an individual that takes a business call while in line at a coffee place, forcing his/her coworkers to listen to the grinding and calling out of names for completed brews.

The Drunken Driver Award:  Winners of this award are individuals that have a track record of sharing a presentation on a call but not knowing how the technology works, and causes the entire meeting to devolve into a group tech support call.

The Ghost Award:  This award is given to those individuals that are part of a project team but never seem to attend a single meeting while at the same time telling people about their vast contributions to the team effort.

The Bull in a China Shop Award:  Recipients of this award receive it for verbally and organizationally plowing into other people’s projects or work efforts, disrupting them on some misguided belief that their project is more important than everything else.  It must be, they are working on it.

The Bubble Boy Award:  This honor is presented to individuals or teams that go off on their own and make some sort of organizational or process change but openly refuse to engage with every stakeholder impacted by their decisions.  Living in a bubble, they cause havoc and chaos all in the name of progress.  Morons.

The Hoarder Award:  Honorees of this award receive it for not sharing information in a vain and arrogant effort to inflate their own positions or ego.

The Blind Squirrel Award:  Presented to the IT person that solves a massive problem or outage through blind luck, and still doesn’t know how that happened.

The H. G. Wells Award:  Individuals winning this coveted award do so by referencing how we have done things in the past.  “We used to do it this way…”  Their desire to travel back in time is admirable and their insight are often stunningly correct, but are often ignored.

The Center of the Universe Award:  This often sought after award is given to the person who has dedicated most of their time during the year focused on advancing their career rather than actually DOING THEIR FU*KING JOB!  With them, it is all about that next promotion.

The Pyramid Award:  Granted to people who hopelessly over-architect technology solutions just because they can.

The Technobabble Award – The much coveted TBA:  Presented annually to the IT staff or leader who creates the most complicated new acronym or buzzword combination simply so they sound more important.  Special points are awarded for creating an acronym that spells out an actual word.

The Hall-Monitor Award:  Provided to the individual that solely relies internal processes and documentation as the means to justify their existence. This person is often times the same person that tracks when people log on and log off, just to call them out for not working enough.

The Groundhog’s Day Award:  This award is given to the person or teams that do something wrong, over and over, with the hope that the results will somehow be different at some point.

The Order of the Paper Spine:  This elite order is given to those managers that sound tough, but when pressed, completely sell out their entire team (or even their entire organization).  The award is provided based on the greatest gap between their verbal bluster and the degree of their complete compromise.

The Bridge Burner Award:  This honor is given to those individuals who quit one job and take another and manage to make the transition in a highly public and disastrous manner.

The Ulcer Generator Award: Given to the person who, by their very nature, generates tension and leaves a wake of snarky comments wherever they go, giving their managers constant angst.

The Pyromaniac Award:  This is bestowed on those individuals that deliberately create problems solely so they can come in and solve those problems.  Sick SOB’s…

The Captain Insensitivity Award:  Presented to those individuals that say or write things that are hurtful to the staff, while being completely oblivious to the damage they cause.  Note:  They are usually baffled when they receive this award.

Dwight-schrute-quotes

The Stalin Award:  Given annually to the most brutal manager, one who rules through fear and intimidation.  Note:  Because of this vindictive bastard’s reputation, this award is made covertly, with no nominees attached to it.

The Pontificator Award:  This award is granted to those individuals that ramble on and on during a meeting or call simply so that it appears they are contributing, when in reality, they are regurgitating the same stuff over and over.

The Artful Dodger Award:  Given to the office fu*k-up that, once his/her mistakes are discovered, they transfer to another team to dodge the proverbial bullet.

The Reading is Fundamental Award:  Presented to individuals that don’t read their email and get on calls so that other people can explain what they should have read in the first place.

The Airline Points Whore Aware:  This award is given to the individual who has racked up the most frequent flyer and hotel award points in a year.  He really didn’t have to travel that much, but this is how he funds his family vacations at the expense of the organization.  Douchebag.

The Bus Transmission Award:  Presented to the person or persons who can be relied on to throw another person or team under the bus (place blame) in order to preserve their own reputation.

The Bugler Award:  Recipients of this award receive it for tooting their own horn – often – constantly.   They brag about the work they accomplish and the work they claim to have accomplished that is done by others.

The Mandatory Learning Infliction Award:  This award is given to the leader who requires mandatory learning on the organization because they believe that learning alone drives behavioral change.  This is given with a gold star if there is a pass-fail test as part of the learning.

The Angel of Death Award:  Presented to the person that is on their death-bed or recovering from surgery and still comes into work, and makes sure everyone knows it.  Thanks for hacking up during the conference call Bob…yes, we get it, you are more dedicated than sane employees who stay at home.  Or, perhaps, you’re just stupid.

Underwater Award:  Also known as the I’m So Busy Award.  This is awarded to people that go out of their way to constantly tell you just how busy they are, despite having time to disrupt your day.

The PowerPoint Police Award:  This coveted award is given to the individual who points out when your presentation deck does not meet the company standards.  “You’re using Georgia 14 point font and we are supposed to use Times Roman 15 point, James.”

The Gone Girl Award:  Presented to any man or woman who mysteriously disappears during work hours for long periods of time and offers only vague excuses as to where they are.

The Derailer Award:  This honor is given to the individual that shows up at the tail end of a project and manages to grind it to halt over some meaningless technicality that could have been avoided IF THEY HAD ATTENDED A SINGLE MEETING.  Note:  There is a special place in Hell for the individuals that win this award.

The Order of the Bloody Blade:  This award is given to the person that most effectively stabs a coworker in the back for their own personal gain.

The Cersai Lannister (Incest) Award:  This award is bestowed for a manager who hires someone unqualified for the job, just because they are a friend or come from the same company that the hiring manager worked at.

The Red Pencil Award:  Given to those individuals that cannot edit a document digitally but must print it out and mark up the hard copy.  This, despite the fact they work in an IT department and know about revision marks in Word.

The Scotty Award:  Given to the coder that creates a true thing of beauty – a piece of code that does what it is supposed to, sails through testing, and is short and sweet.

Did I miss any?

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.