Human Resources II

Having fun at work is often anathema.  What a shame that is, too.  When I was a developer, I loved coding!  My coworkers were frequently fun, and always willing to be flattered into helpfulness.  I was quite self-motivated of course, and eager to learn.  I have my battle scars too, and recently I had to look at something I wrote in 2001, and I blushed with embarrassment when I discerned the hokey approach employed.  Still, the days were too short to contain the fun of code, and I rushed to work early each morning to poke at a new problem.

Some years have passed since then, and I confess that I frequently wake up on a weekday and feel oppressed at the thought of driving to the office and diving into emails.  The day is too short because there are too many problems to handle, irritating people to assuage, other teams calling me with questions, and the CIO whimsically changing my priorities.  It’s amazing that my team can accomplish anything in such a chaotic environment.

I wonder what they can do when some of the detritus is removed?

Continuing to read Peopleware, I was surprised and inspired by a section discussing team building.  I was initially suspicious when I read the term team building as I was part of a team building exercise on a construction project, and it went terribly wrong terribly quickly.  My husband as well has shared some unfortunate experiences which involved retreats and conferences.  A coworker told me of another such experience at her previous job, where she thought a little game might break the ice with a new team:  she retrieved each person’s birth month and day and copied horocscopes from a book she had – then each had to guess who was associated with each day.  The experiment was intended to be fun, but I am told it devolved into a strange, accusatory and ultimately unproductive exercise.

I gritted my teeth and read onwards, and was interested to find that the elaborate undertakings described above are not necessary to encourage team cohesion.  Sure, they discuss Outward Bound programs and the like, but those sorts of things don’t suit my team; they are rather more fond of food and drink than rock climbing.  The activity doesn’t have to be elaborate, and the less studied the better as this is team building and not coercion.

And so an idea has bubbled up:  rent a banquet room at a local hotel for lunch or an early dinner.

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6 responses

  1. A Christmas party in June 😀 – your team is really lucky to have a manager such as you, one that actually thinks thinks about the team and strives to do better. A rare find indeed!

  2. There’s a new hotel down the street – easy walking distance from the office. A colleague has already secured the banquet room rental rates, which are reasonable. A box lunch from the local deli, some music in the background, a nice selection of fancy sodas … sounds like FUN to me.

  3. It sounds fantastic! It’s the best kind of team building, one where there is no competitive pressure or the likes there of, just being, getting to chill out with everyone and be yourselves. *hats off* and I am not kidding – you are the type of manager I sought high and low for but very rarely found.

  4. You know, I thought you guys had it right by having the occassional Friday night blow off steam drinks and appetizers at Applebees.

    Instead of renting out the local meeting place… why don’t you use our garden? Much nicer location for a lunch. Have the deli cater….

    If you don’t like that idea… how about a local park?

    Having it in a meeting room is just well…… yuck! Going into another building with artificial lights. Much better to be out in the air, breathe, and be peaceful.

  5. Amber it sounds to me like you want a party 🙂 I am forever grateful that you didn’t bring up the dipped strawberries or cheesecake oh dang now I have! Sheesh can’t take myself anywhere!

  6. Great idea, amberfireinus!! Wow – that is an amazing and generous offer.

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