I'm not going to name names. Where I work doesn't matter (and if you know me personally and know where it is, then shhhh. I don't want any defamation lawsuits or angry CEOs coming after me with baseball bats because that's totally what CEOs do when they have a problem with someone.) As I'm leaving, though, I have some thoughts for this dear former-in-12-work-days employer of mine.
When I started here, I was in love with it. It's a big campus with a Starbucks, a gym, a cafeteria, and posters of men ripping open their jackets all superman style to show tee shirts with our logo underneath.
I liked that there were articles in our monthly employee publication with titles like "A Sense of Community". Hell, I liked that there were monthly publications just for the employees. I truly enjoyed some of the more irritating sides of corporate america, like the dress code and the hallway promises to 'grab some coffee and sync up'.
Cut me some slack, it was new to me. This company is 20+ times the size of my last one.
1) Starting meetings ten minutes late.
I wish I was kidding, I really do. The rule of thumb seems to be that the meeting start time (say, 4 pm) is the time to stop whatever you were doing before. If you were answering emails, you stop at 4, and THEN you go print what you need for your meeting, THEN you grab your coffee, THEN you go to the meeting room. I can't even tell you how many empty rooms I sat in for my first six months here, wondering where the hell everyone was.
1b) Forbidding laptops in meetings.
While this may make sense from a time management perspective (until you see 1c, at least), it does not make sense from a wasting a fucking ridiculous amount of paper perspective. It's not just meeting attendees that don't bring laptops - it's organizers and presenters too. My floor has 12 hallways, each with 12 offices. We share one projector. Have a presentation you want to share at a meeting? Go ahead and print that sucker out. It's 32 slides and there are ten attendees? So? Print away! That's what trees are FOR, amirite?
1c) Encouraging the use of Blackberries and iPhones during meetings.
If the point of not bringing the laptop (that we all have) to the meeting is to minimize distractions, then why the hell are we all on our bberries and iphones all the time? It comes from the top down - my boss does it, his boss does it, ad infinitum. When something important does actually get said, it has to be repeated several times before everyone in the room catches it.
2) Pick a level of transparency and stick with it.
Our stated goal is full transparency. All employees are shareholders, and our rule of thumb is don't do anything you'd be ashamed to see on the front page of the Wall Street Journal the next day. With 5000 employees, full transparency isn't possible. We can't all be in on the decision making process, and I think we all know that. However, insisting that there is nothing to know right up until 30% of the workforce is cut is ZERO transparency. If that's the way you want to roll, that's fine - those are decisions the company leaders should be making. Just don't tell us we know everything and then whomp us like that. It's mean.
3) Stealing vacation.
Perhaps stealing is too harsh a word. Um... what would the word be for taking away earned vacation? Confiscating? Confiscating vacation! At the end of every year and when someone quits! Yeah, don't do that. I know there are financial reasons blahblahblah but it's MY VACATION DAMN IT.
This one is a little personal, perhaps.
There you go. From the trenches, the three things you shouldn't do to your employees. We end up confused, worried, undervacationed, and eventually dead from global warming because all the trees are gone.