Thursday, April 23, 2015

You’re driving me crazy, work edition

The biggest thing I miss about working full-time is having colleagues around.

I don’t lack for contact with my clients, but it’s not the same as being there. You don’t have impromptu conversations, coffee breaks, lunches out, or walks around the parking lot.

On the other hand, you don’t have to put up with those annoying little co-worker habits, as I was reminded the other day when I saw a piece on the topic on iMedia.

First on the list was whistling.

This, of course, reminds me of a sales guy I once worked with who used to whistle the theme from Gilligan’s Island. Constantly.

Not that I don’t find myself channeling my mother plenty these days, which means I’m occasionally whistling under my breath. (My mother went back and forth between no-tune whistling and La Vie en Rose. Edith Piaf and Liz Rogers? Talk about the odd couple!) But mostly when I’m whistling, since there are no co-workers around, I’m just annoying myself. At least so far…

The whistle while you work annoyance item was followed by emails that end up cc’ing everyone under the sun.

This one is as much a productivity hit as an annoyance, but there is a problem of how to respond to an e-mail where a lot of people are copied directly or cc’d.

Say Joe Blow shoots off an informational e-mail, and someone shoots back a quick “thanks”, including everyone on the list.

You’re then faced with the dilemma of whether to a) send Joe and Joe alone an e-mail thanking him; b) “reply to all” so that everyone can see that you are grateful to Joe and aren’t an impolite ingrate – especially after someone has already made sure that everyone knows that he/she appreciates Joe’s efforts; or c) ignore it: the last thing Joe needs is 50 e-mails thanking him for sending out the new corporate sales deck. I tend to use option a) or c). But I’m still suckered into reading the e-mails from those who go with b). What if they actually have something to add to the conversation that goes beyond “thanks”? You never know…

Apparently the use of the word “like” is, like, an annoyance to some. Never bothered me that much. I just edit it out.

On the other hand, leaving a messy kitchen was something that always made me crazy. As did those who left their leftovers and long-expired yogurts in the fridge. I was pretty much a fridge Nazi, and spent plenty of Saturdays tossing science experiments out.

As bad as the kitchen mess, of course, is the leaving of the coffee cups on the conference room table. Always drove me nuts – especially because people invariably walked by a wastebasket on their way out of the meeting.

Listening to music sans headphone is a peeve that really didn’t exist when I worked. For one thing, I mostly worked in a private office. For another – more important – people weren’t as hooked on having music on 24/7. I did work with one programmer who kept a TV on pretty much all the time, but she was a coding genius/speed demon, so she could do whatever she wanted as far as I was concerned.

I can see where it would be a big deal in an open environment.

I suspect that most people who listen to music have headphones. The problem is more likely those who occasionally click on a video without having their speakers off or a headset plugged in.

Unneeded conference calls is another annoyance. Interesting that this one is about conference calls, not meetings.

I guess this speaks to the workplace becoming more virtual.

But conference call or meeting, there’s nothing worse than working in a super-meeting culture.

When I worked at Genuity, you could be in non-stop meetings from 8 a.m. (or earlier) up until 6 p.m. (or later). You barely got a bio-break as you sped from one meeting to the next. No wonder Genuity went out of business.

People missing deadlines made the annoyance list, but, to me, this one goes beyond annoyance.

Yes, we all miss deadlines on occasion. Sometimes things come up. Sometimes you bite off more than you can chew. Sometimes you really thought you’d make it but don’t quite get there.

Still, a head’s up is always a good idea.

And speaking of deadlines, one of my favorite (least favorite?) corporate annoyances was the deadline bogusly imposed by a nonsense fire drill.

At Genuity, some of my friends worked for a VP who was past master of the fire drill. No wonder Genuity went out of business.

The use of corporate clichés and of “too much internal [buzzzword] lingo are, admittedly, annoying. And yet, they can be so deliciously amusing, especially when you got to play buzzword bingo.

It wasn’t exactly buzzwordy, and it wasn’t a cliché – given that I suspect no one ever used it before or after I heard it – but one of my favorite corporate whatevers was at a sales kick-off, when the president of our division said that we were going to go through the market “with all the momentum of an entrenched juggernaut.”

I was sitting with my boss, and, as I was mulling over why someone would choose to liken us to a death wagon, he leaned over and whispered, ‘just how much momentum does something entrenched have’?


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