1. People who arrive early for training and then sit in the front row are a little strange.
2. People who arrive late for training and find no room in the last row who then rearrange seats to create a new last row need therapy.
3. People who use the phrase “think outside the box” during a meeting are improvising and stalling for time.
4. If you have to have a meeting, you shouldn’t text while it is in progress.
5. If you can text instead of meeting, you don’t need a meeting.
6. During a job interview, it is never a good idea to tell the interviewer that you wish to be called “Conquistador.”
7. Flambé is not for amateurs. (See yesterday’s post).
8. People who hum or whistle at work should be slapped about the head in a non-violent manner.
9. Accidental use of the “Reply All” feature has caused more incidents of sudden high blood pressure and temporary paralysis than any other event known to medical science.
10. People who read Evil Skippy at Work and recommend it to their friends are generally both intelligent and very attractive.
1. You would benefit from cross-training in other departments.
Evil Skippy’s Translation: There are lots of supervisors who owe me a favor — and helping me get rid of you would be a big one.
2. You need to think more carefully about your work product.
Evil Skippy‘s Translation: You are depriving a village of its idiot.
3. You need to develop more advanced oral communication skills.
Evil Skippy‘s Translation: Whenever I see two people talking and one of them looks really bored, you are always the other one.
4. You have a tendency to take matters too seriously at times.
Evil Skippy‘s Translation: You may not have an ulcer, but you are a carrier.
5. You do not realize that you are not performing up to the expected level.
Evil Skippy‘s Translation: You have delusions of adequacy.
6. You put a lot of effort into your work, but we need to see results.
Evil Skippy‘s Translation: The wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead.
7. You are a pleasure to supervise.
Evil Skippy‘s Translation: I am supposed to say something nice and my mind is a blank.
8. You can be too friendly at times.
Evil Skippy-ese: We are waiting to see if your former co-worker sues after the mistletoe incident.
9. You need to work on how you handle stressful situations.
Evil Skippy‘s Translation: Stop being a drama queen.
10. At times, your assertive nature can cause people to feel uncomfortable.
Evil Skippy‘s Translation: We’ve hired extra security because of you.
I know from your past posts that you do not care for meetings. I have tried to limit the number of meetings in my department, but one of my fellow supervisors is meeting-crazy. I have given up on trying to reduce the number of meetings that he calls (and that I can’t avoid). What are some Evil Skippy ways to end the meeting before it drags on into the next work day? OK, they do not really last that long – but it sure seems like they will at times.
— Save Me
[Note: The past post is Murder the Meeting.]
Evil Skippy’s Top Ten Ways to End A Meeting
1. Pass Out. If you employ this method frequently, you will have the added benefit of being offered some sort of accommodation and FMLA leave.
2. Give the leader lots of coffee. Lots. When he announces a short break, lead everyone else to freedom.
3. Announce a team-building exercise. Hide and Seek. For this to work, the leader must be “it.” Lead everyone else to freedom. (You need to return in a few hours so the leader can “find” you.)
4. Hit the fire alarm. Criminal penalties may arise, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Your local public safety officials may be displeased, but you can explain it was the only way to end a meeting. They will understand. Maybe.
5. Telepathy. Send messages to the leader with your mind powers. “End the meeting now. End the meeting now.” Let me know how this works for you. The only success that I have had with this approach is having everyone else think that I am concentrating about profound business thoughts.
6. Smell strange chemicals. For this to work, identify the two colleagues who are most susceptible to suggestions. Sit next to them at the meeting. Whisper to each of them that you smell odd fumes. A few moments later, whisper that it is getting stronger and you feel sort of odd. In no time, they will be dizzy and one of them will declare a state of emergency.
7. Natural Disaster. Make the table shake for a few moments. (You need to do this with your legs or hands below the table top so no one notices.) Do it again a few moments later. Shout “Earthquake!” and insist that everyone evacuate the building now that the shaking seems to have stopped. This works best if you work on a major fault line. If you don’t, plan ahead and circulate rumors of the discovery of a previously undetected earthquake zone in your area.
8. Cake and/or donuts. Arrange in advance for someone to bring in a limited amount of sugary treats. Cake tends to have the best “Pied Piper” effect. Announce during the meeting that you just received a text – there is some cake in the break room but it is going fast. Do not stand near the door if you implement this strategy. There will be a stampede.
9. Voodoo. Contact Marie Laveau’s in New Orleans. There is bound to be some sort of spell to end meetings.
10. Flash Mob. Tell everyone else that the meeting is a front for a flash mob. (You will need to have a rehearsal or two – but serve refreshments and make those a party as opposed to a meeting.) When the meeting needs to end, give the signal and sneak out while everyone else performs the routine.
I am writing because you seemed to challenge us in your 9/23 article with that “hint” comment. This is not a new issue, but I am very interested in your unique perspective on what happened. A few years ago, I came to work on a Saturday. It was very uncommon for anyone to be there on a Saturday. (It was a professional office environment and not open to the public). I thought I was alone, but I wasn’t. As I walked down the hall to get coffee, a co-worker walked out of his office. Stark naked. I was stunned. He looked shocked, said “Whoops!” and went back into his office. He came back out fully clothed and apologizing. It turned out that he was a nudist and often worked in the buff on weekends. He was not a pervert or anything and I did not care, so that was that.
Still, I want to know. What would Evil Skippy have done?
Evil Skippy’s Top Ten Things To Say To A Naked Co-Worker
- “You are in so much trouble. You’re supposed to be wearing shoes.”
- “Who’s your dry cleaner? Just look at all those wrinkles. Oh.”
- “Seen better, seen worse. Do you know where the Anderson file is?”
- “This explains so many things.”
- “Do you have change for the vending machine on you?”
- “Did I miss a memo?”
- “My eyes! My eyes!”
- “This will go viral on You Tube.”
- “You must have just come from Human Resources.”
Has it really been 38 years since George Carlin released (and was arrested for performing) “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television”?
It has been thirty-eight years, but we are still talking about naughty language on the airwaves and in the workplace. 2010 may even go down in the history books as the Year of Cussing thanks to such swear-related stories in the news as:
- Vice President Joe Biden caught on microphone referring to the new health care legislation as “A big f***ing deal.”
- Mel Gibson allegedly making up to thirty “terrorizing” phone calls to his ex, including one where he “dropped the F-bomb” twenty-three times in two minutes.
- Potential folk hero and former Jet Blue flight attendant Steven Slater engaging the plane’s emergency chute, grabbing a cold beer and sliding into unemployment after shouting, “To the passenger who just called me a mother f***** — f*** you!”
- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banning swear words in employee e-mails (such as references to “sh**** deals”), resulting in lots of publicity in both the Wall Street Journal and the wonderful world of blogging.
So what’s up with all the swearing? Is it a trend? Has it been happening all along without media attention? Is it truly a workplace issue?
Here is what I know from personal experience. Questions about rude, profane and/or dirty language have come up in my harassment prevention classes for years — but just occasionally. I have not noticed a recent increase in the number of concerns or complaints. At the same time, I have noticed a tendency for more people to complain about anything that bothers them. While comments about naughty or rough language appear to be no more frequent now than they were five or even ten years ago, more people characterize their concerns as possible harassment complaints. My impression is that this is because employees believe that a “harassment complaint” will gain more attention from management than a simple concern about language.
So is swearing appropriate in the workplace or not? It should come as no surprise that Evil Skippy has some views on the subject.
Evil Skippy’s Top Ten Observations about Workplace Swearing
- If you have a British accent, swearing sounds intelligent and fancy. Stephen Fry is very refined when he discusses the Joy of Swearing, so it must be true.
- A 2007 study found that regular profanity on the job allows staff to express their feelings better.
- There are times when swearing at work is hardly ever a good idea. In front of your boss or a customer, for example.
- Suppressing a hearty round of swearing when you drop a heavy object (such as an anvil or sledgehammer) on your foot can cause irreparable brain damage.
- No matter how you regulate (or don’t regulate) workplace language, you are going to piss off someone. Whoops. I meant annoy. Irritate.
- “Darn” is not a swear word. If you complain that it really means “damn” and is therefore the same as swearing, you need either more caffeine or a therapist.
- Letting loose with the F-bomb on your first day of work is stupid, unless you are in the process of sliding down an emergency chute while quitting your airline job. In that case, it would be stupid and dramatic.
- Using cute substitutes for swear words is not so cute. I know of one co-worker who started referring to co-workers as “grassholes”. The other co-workers mowed him down.
- If crude language is your only complaint about work, you are a very lucky employee.
- There is a huge difference between merely using dirty words at work (“S***! I hate this F***ing project”) and aiming the abusive language at co-workers (You s***-head. I hate your f***ing guts!”). Neither is professional, but the latter is really rotten and should never be allowed at work.
Like so many issues about workplace conduct, management needs to set the tone for what is (and what is not) appropriate behavior at each particular workplace. Different workplaces will have different tolerances and interpretations about what is professional and what is vulgar. Employees do not have to agree with management’s standards, but they do need to comply with the rules if they want to remain working – even if their personal preference is for more (or less) salty language.
Last but not least, if constant swearing (your own) is a concern – help is available on-line at the Cuss Control Academy. Seriously.
I hate meetings.
There. I said it. Let the world stop spinning if it must.
Seriously, does anyone out there really like meetings? Speak up.
<Insert sound of crickets chirping>
I thought so. I am not an expert on 14th-century epic poetry, but I am pretty sure that meetings are part of Dante’s fourth Circle of Hell. (The fourth circle is the domain of Hoarders and Wasters).
One of the greatest benefits of escaping law firm life and starting my own business was the near elimination of meetings. Law firms are crazy for meetings. There were case planning meetings, marketing meetings, recruiting meetings and the most dreaded meetings of all — the every-Monday-morning meetings where everyone had to present their work plan for the week. A lot of people said the same thing every single time and, the more boring their cases, the more they talked about them. Repeatedly. I won a $25 wager one Monday by accurately predicting what each person would say. It was a sucker bet and the extra cash did not come close to alleviating the tedious pain of having to sit through the session.
While there are many professional resources filled with advice about running effective meetings, I have not yet found a book that proposes eliminating most meetings altogether. Consider this posting my proposal. Murder the meeting! They are almost always a waste of time – a memo or an e-mail message could accomplish in minutes what the hour-long meeting barely begins to achieve.
Evil Skippy applauds. “Let’s drop the proposal and go straight to the source. Too many control-freak bosses are addicted to meetings. What other time can they make so many people gather around a conference table with stale donuts and lukewarm coffee for hours at a time? It is a total power trip. You have to make the control freaks think it is their idea to cancel all meetings, or else instigate a total workplace revolt. Here’s how.
Evil Skippy’s Ten Ways to Murder Meetings
1. Don’t reserve a conference room.
There is nothing quite as much fun as a half-hour game of “Find A Meeting Room” with all of your co-workers following you from place to place.
2. Start the meeting over, point by point, whenever anyone arrives late.
This is not rudeness. Everyone knows that repetition is a key to learning.
3. Immediately after opening the meeting, excuse yourself to make handouts.
This will give everyone a chance to talk about their weekend. Again.
4. Bring five handouts for twenty people.
If anyone complains, call them Tree Killer.
5. Ignore the scheduled ending time.
Everyone loves suspense. You’ll enjoy watching the excitement build as people check their watches. Of course, several of them are merely wondering if time has stopped.
6. Use PowerPoint, with at least 150 words per slide.
Squinting at the screen will give everyone else wrinkles and frown lines. You will now look much better by comparison.
7. Read the text of every slide, word for word and s-l-o-w-l-y.
8. Ask if anyone has heard rumors of reorganization.
When asked how you heard about a reorg in the first place, just look perplexed and say you never heard anything about it. Then grimace a little as though you are keeping a secret.
9. Comment on every single point, even if you only barely re-phrase what the prior person just said.
Everyone knows that repetition is a key to learning.
10. Make sure that the relevant decision-maker is not at the meeting.
That way, you can hold the same meeting again with the same people plus the decision-maker.”
Tempting. Then again, there is the honest and direct approach. (Ironically, the discussion may need to take place at your next meeting). Just come out and say it – you feel that the meetings are not a productive use of people’s time. Multiply the number of attendees by the number of meeting hours – that is a lot of productive time being lost. Give your colleagues the nudge to come out of the I Hate Meetings Closet. I bet they will.
“Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.”
– John Kenneth Galbraith
The recent article by Tara Parker-Pope looks at a variety of studies about the causes of workplace stress. Ms. Pope recognizes the obvious suspects – “long hours, bad bosses, office bullies” — and then cites clinical psychologist Samuel A. Culbert, author of “Get Rid of the Performance Review!” Mr. Culbert argues that performance evaluations create high levels of stress for workers and are so dependent on the supervisor-worker relationship as to be meaningless.
Evil Skippy applauds. “Yay! No more evaluations! Let supervisors rejoice across the land!”
Not so fast.
I agree with Mr. Culbert that some evaluations can be meaningless, but in my humble opinion the more common culprit for the problem is the supervisor’s lack of effort. Honest, accurate and specific communications about performance are not meaningless. My post, “Daily Performance Management – ‘I.T.S.’ Fundamental,” shows how to make such communications an easy and effective habit.
Evil Skippy wants the keyboard. Against my better instincts, here’s Skippy:
Top Ten Performance Evaluation Tips
1. Give Everyone a “Satisfactory” Ranking
Why bother with a “needs to improve” score? That just means you would have to come up with an improvement plan and you have enough work to do as it is. Besides, everyone knows that “satisfactory” is an insult so they know it really means “needs to improve”. It might be embarrassing to read the dictionary definition of “satisfactory” out loud during your deposition when the employee sues for wrongful termination, but I’m sure a smart supervisor like you can explain why you fired a “satisfactory” employee.
2. Write the evaluations the evening before they are due.
It’s not like “real work”, so why spend too much time? You know how everyone is doing so you can dash these off while you watch The Office. Just because you know all year when the evaluations will be due does not mean there is any need to plan ahead.
3. Wait until the evaluation meeting to bring up problems.
Everyone likes a surprise, right? The look on an employee’s face when you bring up some incident from seven months earlier – especially when you never mentioned the event before – is priceless.
4. Be entertaining.
If evaluations are so stressful, why not make it easier with a few jokes? Pregnant employees especially like comments such as “wide load” and “beach ball.”
5. Don’t bother with notes.
You work with these people, so you know what you want to say. Just wing it. If you can’t think of specific examples without referring to notes, the examples must not be very good. If you include a wrong fact or two, the employee will probably let you know. Tell them you inserted the mistake on purpose to make sure they are paying attention.
6. If the employee had a great year except for last month, tear them apart in the review.
If they whine about the eleven months of stellar work, just remind them, “That was then and this is now.”
7. If the employee had a terrible year except for last month, give a glowing review.
After all, they are doing well now and the review is dated today. This will be so much easier for you – you don’t have to describe a bunch of problems.
8. Don’t encourage feedback.
You’re the boss. If the employee starts talking, just glare at them until they stop.
9. In the “goals” section, just cut and paste whatever you wrote last year.
Also, be sure to blame the employee for not meeting those goals. If they try to place any fault with you, just glare at them until they stop.
10. Distribute the evaluations and tell your employees that you will be glad to discuss anything that they don’t understand.
This cuts down on meeting time. Anyone who asks to meet with you should be marked down in competency levels since they did not “understand.”
Yep, just follow that advice and every work day can be an Evil Skippy kind of day. Did he leave anything out?
[Note from Evil Skippy: Usually, I just make cameo appearances in these postings. Why spend a lot of time coming up with topics when I can just insert myself into Jim’s work? Plus, he edits me too much. He left his laptop logged on so I am taking this chance to give you my unfiltered wisdom. If the post ends abruptly, it means he came back. Let’s just keep this between us, OK?]
1. Don’t be on time.
Stop for a latte and waltz into the classroom ten minutes late. Everyone will now know that you are as special as you are. You can read the materials later anyway. So what if everyone else made an effort? Remember — you’re more important.
2. Don’t just sit in the last row, rearrange the chairs to make a new last row.
After all, the instructor might have halitosis. Besides, the cool people sit in the back. Way back.
3. Whenever the instructor asks a question, look down at your lap or feet so he or she won’t call on you.
Yeah, the trainers are real idiots and have not caught on to that trick.
4. Hold your cell phone in your lap so you can text and check e-mail.
Yeah, the trainers are real idiots and have not caught on to that trick.
5. Leave the class to use the restroom five minutes before any break.
It is the best way to avoid lines. Why should you wait? (See Tip Number One, above).
6. If you have a funny thought, share it with your neighbor immediately.
You might forget otherwise. The instructor probably won’t notice and your neighbor will be grateful. If other people in the class give you that dirty look you see all the time at movie theaters – what do you care? They are probably just jealous because you are not sitting next to them.
7. If you have a question, wait for the break to ask the instructor.
Since you are so smart and interesting, the instructor will welcome talking to you instead of resting his or her voice and relaxing before the next two hours of class. You can take your break when class resumes.
8. Wear a lot of perfume or cologne and sit in the front row.
The instructor will admire your fashionable good taste.
9. If you love the class, keep it to yourself.
You don’t want everyone thinking that you are trying to be teacher’s pet, do you?
10. Leave early.
You already know everything, so why not?