Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Another Day Closer To Gettin' Dooced*

When you’re a contract worker with fickle loyalties and questionable morals, it would be the easiest thing in the world to take a swipe at your employers by pooh-poohing every management decision and improvement initiative that affects you. However, just because it’s easy doesn’t mean you should necessarily swing for a home run whenever a lame pitch comes your way… but where’s the fun in that.

(*For those of you who don’t know, the verb “dooced” is commonly used in geeky internet circles to describe someone who gets fired for blogging about his or her job / employer / co-workers. And not in a good way. Back when the internet wore a long mullet hairstyle and Miami Vice suit with rolled up sleeves, a woman called Heather Armstrong was so fired for this heinous crime. Her blog, www.dooce.com, has gone on to become the most famous thing since the wheel and makes her a small fortune from ad revenues and such. And that, my friends, is the dream. Oh, and it’s a pretty good read to boot.)

Here at the Bureau Of Longer Lasting Office & Corporate Knowledge Solutions, (“Talking the talk so you can walk the walk”) we are proud to bring you another of our ever-popular features to help you achieve harmony in the workplace and get the best from your staff. Our subject this week is Team Away Days, a rare but invaluable opportunity to escape the pressures of day to day office life and spend time bonding with colleagues, absorbing inspirational messages from leaders and consuming free drinks at the company’s expense.

Whilst the content of this feature has been compiled from genuine case studies over decades of collaboration with international blue chip companies, the results are presented in a generalised manner to aid problem-free implementation within your own organisation. Any resemblance to people or creatures, living, dead or just fast asleep at the back of the room, is purely coincidental and has no connection whatsoever with such an event attended by this writer last week.

The key to running a successful Team Away Day begins, of course, with setting expectations at the correct level. Calling it an “Away” day may lead some imaginative people to believe they’ll be boarding a bus or a plane to travel somewhere different for the thrilling adventure of a lifetime. Our research shows that a weekend at Gleneagles with unlimited golf and room service pizzas (pony trekking for the ladies) produces the happiest, most productive team possible. However if your intended venue is a city centre hotel five minutes from your office, it’s probably best to be open and honest and mention this at the outset.

To make your people feel as comfortable as possible, it’s a good idea to adopt a relaxed dress code for the day but please be more specific than “dress casual, not scruffy”. This imprecise directive is likely to induce all manner of wardrobe anxiety and will pose more questions than it answers.

Are jeans acceptable?
If so, should I iron them with a seam down the front like my Mum used to do?
Will my “Stick It To De Man” t-shirt offend anyone?
White or dark socks with my Jesus sandals?
Is swimwear EVER appropriate?

You’ll want to kick off the day with a session designed to make people feel relaxed and enthused about what lies ahead but whatever you come up with, DO NOT advertise this on the agenda as “an icebreaker”. Calling something “an icebreaker” serves only to ensure that the temperature in the room drops 40 degrees in an instant and the body language of your audience will tighten to the point where blood stops flowing to all vital organs.

Alternative phrases which are proven to boost morale at this point in proceedings include, “we’ll all meet up again at lunchtime after the golf”, “anyone fancy a power nap?” and “the bar is now open”.

Finally, makes sure there is enough variety in your programme to provide your people with an alternative to any long and dry presentations which outline corporate policies and department restructuring. A series of mini team challenges scattered throughout the day will keep everyone energised and focussed on the key deliverables. In addition, introducing a competitive element to these sessions can be especially useful if you have any difficult messages to relay.

“Okay people, one additional week of annual leave to the winning team, woo hoo! Oh, and an extended period of garden leave for the rest of you. Now LET'S. KICK. ASS.”

It only remains for us at the Bureau to wish you every success with your own Team Away Day. And if that doesn't work, sometimes the solution to morale problems is just to fire all the unhappy people.

More newspaper stuff here.


At 23/5/06 12:53 pm, Blogger Gordon said...

And what did we have last week? An "offsite meeting" in which we sat in a hotel meeting room, with a view of.. you guessed it... our office!

*rolls eyes*

At 24/5/06 9:07 am, Blogger Lesley said...

To cultivate that Dooce-like success, you'll need to get yourself an extremely ugly dog and a dazed-looking wee girl.

At 24/5/06 11:45 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil, correct me if I'm wrong but didn't you and the rest of the training centre team do awfully similar "stupit" stuff as ice breakers or was that just the big mac, I do seem to remember decrying such things as blowing jelly babies about with straws when he was telling me about them. Or has all the laundry I do cleansed out my brain

At 24/5/06 11:02 pm, Blogger Neil said...

Gordon - I'm sure there were plenty of rolling eyes at our thing too. Couldn't say for sure though cos mine were shut.

Lesley - Can I obtain these accessories from M&S yet?

Wendy - We did "stupit" stuff but we didn't CALL it an icebreaker. It was more commonly referred to as "visit roll 'n sausage shop".

At 29/5/06 1:03 pm, Blogger DC said...


we had a rather uninteresting" Away day (Half. P.M.)" in an unheated meeting room across the street from our office. This brain-numbing session was chaired by our boss who followed , with a high degree of rigour, his carefully prepared agenda .

The lack of any, arm wrestling, boxing, pie eating activities,was, I must admit, a bit of a let-down.The stuff about work, more bang for your buck, improving performance & all that was just plain boring.



Post a Comment

<< Home