Friday, July 29, 2005

Building Blocks Of Achievement!

Of course, the “Please Kill Me” hat was not the first time my creativity had been rewarded.

There had already been many instances of my artistic perspective causing consternation amongst management. I remember when we had the hallways papered with cheery aphorisms like “Nothing Is Achieved Without Enthusiasm,” I returned to my desk one day and posted a sign which read “Nothing Is Achieved Without An Aneurysm.”

I thought it would catch on. It really did, I thought, more accurately reflect the company’s work ethic, namely that the employee who sacrifices the greatest amount of their personal life will go the farthest. They often spoke out of both sides of their mouth on this issue, insisting that they were concerned about employees achieving the proper “Life/Work Balance,” while making it plain in other ways that the raises and promotions were reserved for those individuals who stayed late enough to miss their family’s dinner or who were willing to sign their weekends over for the good of the enterprise.

Under these circumstances, it was established early on that I would not be rising very far through the ranks.

This is where the morale building that I mentioned previously comes in. At one point it was thought that if the artificial boundaries between management and labor were removed by designating all workers as “associates,” it would go some ways towards fostering some team spirit.

Needless to say, it didn’t last very long. The only reason to become a boss was the incentive of knowing that you could then abuse your underlings. Once you removed that, there was very little impetus left.

Most of the time, the company fell back on the tried-and-true bribe method. The bribe could be an additional day off, or a gift card, or a small trophy. How these were handed out were usually geared to positive comments e-mailed by co-workers.

Recently an announcement was made to the effect that management understood that not all employees had jobs that lent themselves to this sort of system and, as a result, many of the same people seemed to win. So it was decided that a fairer one was required.

Hence, the “Building Blocks of Achievement” program.

Now, remember what I said about Kindergarten? Well, these were no mere metaphorical, ambition-oriented blocks. These were actual building blocks.

Each of us received a base with two large Lego-style blocks upon it labeled “Building Blocks of Achievement.” The idea was to acquire more blocks, like merit badges, named “Innovation,” “Excellence,” “Leadership,” etc. This was done by having people nominate you for said block. At the end of the year, a grand prize would be awarded to the individual with the most blocks.

On the sample nomination form, suggestions were made as to how one could determine a co-worker’s suitability for being nominated. For example:

Jane Doe is always there for questions and assistance. Her devotion during the day to the development of the team is commendable; she completes her own work by working late at night and almost every Saturday.

I may have to buy my own blocks.


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